Thumbs up for Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. Young adult science fiction.
Finally, some steampunk I wholeheartedly enjoyed. This was the book that Airborn (see my review) should have been – wonderfully creative, vivid, and adventuresome on a grand scale. WWI is just beginning, and it’s the gigantic Germanic war machines and AT-ATs – I mean, sorry, “stormwalkers” – versus the British “Darwinist fabulations”: genetically-engineered creatures such as the eponymous Leviathan, an airship that’s sort of a whale, and is definitely an ecosystem all to itself. We follow along with the Scottish lassie Deryn Sharp, who disguises herself as a boy to serve on the Leviathan, and Alek, the (imaginary) son of the archduke Ferdinand, now hunted by his own side after his father’s assassination, as they come together and become allies. Westerfeld’s mastery of his craft is obvious and there’s not a word out of place…oddly, it’s so perfect in phrase and pacing that it gave me the hard-to-quantify impression of being overly edited. Nevertheless, that was just a side thought, and I think the appropriate phrase here is “rollicking good fun.” Be aware that this is only half a book; the ending answers no mysteries and it’s obvious that it’s entended to be followed immediately by the sequel Behemoth.
“Deryn stared out the window, watching the movements of treetops and windblown trash for hints about the day’s weather. The horizon was red, and the Manual of Aerology claimed, Red sky in morning, sailors take warning. But Da had always said that was just an old wives’ tale. It was when you saw a dog eating grass that you knew the heavens were about to split.”
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