Friday, August 13, 2010

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is Barking Good Guy Lit

A British soldier aboard a flying hydrogen-filled whale-like living flying beast. An Austro-Hungarian prince in a two legged walking war machine. Both being chased by the Germans as war looms on the horizon. Deryn Sharp, who goes by Dylan, is a British soldier that’s not supposed to be one because girls can’t be soldiers. Alek, is the son of the Austro-Hungarian king that was murdered by the Serbians and begins the war which becomes WWI. But, this isn’t exactly the WWI that we have come to know. There are genetically modified living beasts on the British “Darwinist” side and gigantic mechanical beasts on the German “Clanker” side. Deryn and Alek meet in a not so idealic situation in which they are forced to make an unlikely alliance for all of them to survive. They forge together aboard the great British Naval beast Leviathan on a journey that will challenge them both and leave them changed.

This book is a guy book. I’m not saying that girls won’t like it, because I can think of a few that would, I’m just saying that it’s got a lot of stuff that guys tend to find cool. There’s action, guns, big loud clanging machines, giant fantastical beasts, some fighting between the two, some cool illustrations of the monsters and machines, it’s just got a bit of testosterone, that’s all. Most of all, stuff happens, and that’s what a lot of guy readers are hoping for. The best part is that this is just the beginning of the whole thing, so there is more. Now. being a Westerfeld fan, I had already set this book up to succeed, but that doesn’t mean that it is not a good book. Even the cover is mantastic. This cover allows a guy to carry the book with pride. As a science teacher and someone who loves history I especially love this book for its ability to bring up conversation regarding these two subjects. The book parallels the timeline of WWI and some of the details surrounding the war (which Westerfeld talks about in the Afterword). The book also has a bit of talk about the science behind some of the Darwinist beasts and could definitely be used to talk about genetics and the possibilities of some of the creations described in the book. Great stuff. This book should be read by anyone who has a hankering for steampunk or just loves to dig into the creative and not so crazy worlds of Scott Westerfeld. If you liked the Uglies books then you will like these as well. Remember that the Star Trek communicators used to seem crazy and now look at the iPhone.

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