Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: Leviathan (Book 1)
Publication: Simon Pulse; Reprint edition (August 10, 2010)
Description: It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.
Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever.
My Thoughts: This story is a combination of alternate history and steampunk. It takes place in 1914 when Europe is on the verge of war. It stars Deryn Sharp who has disguised herself as a boy now named Dylan and joined the air corps. She finds herself as a middie on the Leviathan which is a living ship made up of a number of fabricated animals. Deryn and her people are Darwinists because, in this world, Darwin discovered DNA and a craze for creating all sorts of new living beings began.
It also stars Aleksandar who is the son of Archduke Ferdinand. It begins when the Archduke and his wife are assassinated and Alex's loyal subjects are trying to get him to Switzerland and safety. Austia-Hungary is the land of the Clankers. Alex's people have developed all sorts of interesting machines. In fact, they flee in a walker which is sort of like a tank with legs.
The two kids converge on a glacier in Switzerland which is where the Leviathan is forced to land after being attacked by German airships. Alex and his cohorts have a secret base there where his men hope he will spend the war. But he has to see if he can help when the ship comes down.
They have to work together when the forces searching for him and for the Leviathan converge. Add to this a science boffin named Nora Darwin Barlow who has an urgent need to get some egg to the Ottoman Empire and you have all sorts of action.
I loved all the steampunk details both of the Clanker's technology and the Darwinist's beasties. I also like the friendship that grew between "Dylan" and Alex. Deryn was a great character who is determined to be who she wants to be despite the handicap of her gender. She is brave, smart and adventurous.
The story continues in BEHEMOTH and I can't wait to read it.
Newkirk looked down, shuddering a little. "Don't like those beasties either."I bought this one October 24, 2010. You can buy your copy here.
"You don't like any beasties," Deryn said.
"Aye, but the crawly ones are the worst."