Thursday, October 22, 2009

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan is the first book of a new steampunk trilogy written by young adult, sci-fi writer, Scott Westerfeld. Steampunk is a genre of science fiction writing that encompasses a unique mix of past and future. The first steampunk novels were written by H.G. Wells (War of the Worlds) and Jules Verne (Journey to the Center of the Earth). Originally, steampunk was set in the Victoria era with futurist possibilities, like flying machines, computer-like contraptions, and weapons. The genre eventually evolved to include sub-genres known as clockpunk (16th Century) and dieselpunk (WWI era).

Westerfeld’s new series begins in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which was the event that sparked World War I. Instead of accurately retelling the events of WWI, Westerfeld creates an alternate history, where countries are divided by science and warfare. Countries, like Germany and Austria, known as Clankers, have highly developed war machines. Other countries, such as England, have trusted Darwinists scientists, who developed living war machines and new animals through cross breeding DNA. The Leviathan is part whale, part airship, and it is the pride of the Air Service.

At the beginning of the story we meet young Aleksander (Alek), son of the assassinated Archduke, who is forced to flee his homeland. He is being chased by the Germans and Austrians because he is a threat to the Austrian Empire. The story also introduces Deryn, a young girl who is passing as a teen boy in order to join the British Air Service. She is a talented airman, but women aren’t allowed to fly.

The two cross paths at the start of the war. Alek and his men, who escaped to Switzerland, encounter Deryn and the Leviathan crew when the airship crashes after a German air assault. This book starts an around the world journey and a clash of thinking on man, machine, and science.

Watch this:
Leviathan Book Trailer

Scott Westerfeld has written a number of novels and many of them are available at the library. You may be familiar with the previous series, Pretties, Uglies, Specials, and Extras. Vampire enthusiasts may be familiar with Peeps and The Last Days.

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