Leviathan is an alternative history set in 1914 Europe that I first heard about on the podcast Escape Pod. I was instantly drawn in by Deryn, a teenage girl who disguises herself as a boy to join the British Air Service. Deryn reminds me a lot of Lyra Belacqua from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. Both young ladies have a strong set of core values, and do not hesitate to stand up to any challenge. Deryn is a Darwinist—in the British Empire, the Darwin family has pioneered crossbreeding innumerable creatures to create a vast array of living ships and weapons. This strange menagerie is one of the most alluring parts of the story. In stark contrast are the machines of the Austo-Hungarian Empire. Though quite different than the British creations, these machines are equally intriguing. Prince Aleksandar is our guide to these powerful creations, and the other half of the story. Unlike Deryn, Alek is not worldly, or embarking on adventure of his own choosing.
As with any book with two narrators, you know as a reader that the storylines are bound to meet up. Though this can make a story feel predictable at times, it is not the case with Leviathan. The curious creatures and machines, as well as the threat of impending war, make it very easy to envelop yourself in the story. If you are a fan of sci-fi and YA, you are bound to enjoy Leviathan. If you are not a fan of sci-fi, don’t let that discourage you from reading Leviathan. The story of two teens fighting at the heart of a vast world war will captivate you.
Westerfeld, Scott. Leviathan. New York: Simon Pulse, 2009. Kindle Edition