Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan’s peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what’s ahead.


Hold on to your hats, he’s done it again. This book is everything a Leviathan fan could hope for. Elephant tanks. Sea monsters. A perspicacious pet. Heck, there’s even an American!

Once again, Westerfeld delivers a rollicking adventure. Our intrepid heroes find themselves in Istanbul (not Constantinople), on a peacekeeping mission to prevent the Ottoman Empire from entering the war. The Germans, however, are more than ready for them. Deryn and Alek end up separated and on the run in a foreign city teeming with enemy soldiers. Their only hope is to find each other, and get some help – even if they have to join a revolution.

Several times in this story loyalties come into play. Who to trust, what secrets to share, when the larger picture has to trump one person. How far you can trust a friend. There is still a naivety to Deryn and Alek, reminding us that they are teenagers – a dangerous situation when who they choose to trust could change the outcome of the war.

Behemoth puts the spotlight squarely on Clanker technology. Though the Ottomans design their machines to look like animals, it’s still very much German engineering. The sheer inventiveness of Westerfeld’s brain continues to amaze, but there is a touch less wonder this time around – after all, we’ll never see them again for the first time (like the second time you read about Diagon Alley). And as cool as the new machines are, I still found myself longing for more Darwinist Beasties. So really my only complaint about this story is that I wanted more.

Behemoth delivers on every level. The action is fantastic, the world intricate and fascinating, and Keith Thompson’s drawings are once again amazing.

This is a rip-roaring read with a satisfying end, but there’s still plenty left for Alek and Deryn to do. I’m happy to say I don’t think either of them will be seeing home any time soon.

Byrt Grade: A

Behemoth hits shelves October 1st.