This review is spoiler-free. :)
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever. <
To be completely honest, I never intended to read this series. It didn’t seem like “my type of genre”, and I wasn’t overly fond of Scott Westerfield’s Uglies-series when I read it a couple of years ago.
But then it kept popping up everywhere, and people seemed to love it, so why not? It had been a while since I read Uglies after all, and I didn’t even finish the trilogy. It was time to give Westerfeld another chance to impress me.
And good thing that, because this trilogy was FREAKING BRILLIANT.
As you might or might not know by now, Leviathan, Behemoth and Goliath tell an alternate version of WWI, with the addition of some smoking hot steampunk. In this version, the war is fought by two different factions with rivaling technologies: Darwinists (Britain, or the Triple Entente), with their genetically fabricated creatures, and Clankers (the German Central Powers), with their mechanically engineered robots.
I found this concept absolutely stunning, and as I said earlier, at first I didn’t think it was my kind of genre (I would probably have called them “war books”), but the Leviathan-series was so unbelievably cool and exciting, that I soon forgot all about my previous doubts. The pages just flew by, and with every passing chapter, I just fell more and more in love with the story and the characters.
I must say, Scott Westerfeld is really good at twisting and using things to his advantage in these books. He takes stuff that have really happened, and then changes them so they fit the story, while still staying somewhat true to reality. It was super interesting, and inspired me to learn facts about WW1 that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
I’m actually one of those people who loves history (as long as it’s on my own terms and I don’t have to memorize dates…ugh), and that combined with cool devices and inventions…well, it’s a winning concept, really. I have a premonition that steampunk might be a new favourite genre of mine. ;)
When I first started reading Leviathan, I had a little bit of trouble getting into the “British slang”, but as soon as I did, I loved it (as everything else in these darn novels). It added so much personality to the books, and also helped distinguish the voices of the two protagonists.
Speaking of our protagonists, Deryn and Alek…well, surprise, surprise…I LOVED them!
In the beginning, I was pretty sure I prefered Deryn’s PoV over Alek’s, but about half-way through the first book, I realised I loved him with equally…even though he sometimes behaved like a spoiled brat (his own words), and a ninny (Deryn’s).
I love characters that are flawed. It makes them feel real, and it also leaves room for a lot of improvement and character development. Characters that have their bad sides, are the best characters of all.
Deryn and Alek had such perfect chemistry, and they complemented each other in the greatest of ways. Their scenes together were so hilarious, and one of the best parts of the series, according to me. It’s definitely a good idea to make one of the main characters unaware of the other’s gender, because it leads to such lovely moments, great friendship, and my favourite of them all: no insta-love! :D
Honestly, every single character was amazing, and in these three books, I came to care for them all. I grew really attached, and frankly, now I don’t know what to do with my life. Seriously, I want to cry in a corner forever.
To say the least, this trilogy made me extremely emotional. If it weren’t for the fact that screaming in the middle of the night while people are sleeping is considered to be socially unacceptable, I would definitely have done that. Now I had to muffle my giggles (yes, I actually giggled) and squeals in my pillow, and try not to look too weird smiling to myself amongst other human beings.
We readers lead a tough life…
Now, let’s talk about le illustrations from heaven, made by Keith Thompson!
I mean, seriously…look at that! That’s incredible! All these amazing illustrations gave such life to the story, and helped me as a reader to really envision these awesome creatures that Scott Westerfeld has pulled from the stranger corners of his head (thank the gods for strange corners!). Lovely! I don’t know if the books would’ve been the same without them. (click the picture to go to Keith Thompson’s website)
Now I have raved on and on about this series, and to wrap it all up, I just have to say that this is through and through an amazing trilogy with fast pace, incredible plot and awesome characters. If you don’t give the Leviathan-series a chance, then you are a ninny..or possibly a dummkopf. ;)
Ps. I strongly suggest you read the afterwords of each novel :). Plus,
if when you finish Goliath, check out the secret chapter Westerfeld wrote. It’s super awesome (I have run out of superlatives) and you can find it here.