Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld – Review

Before I even start with the usual – you have to watch this book trailer because it is the BEST. BOOK. TRAILER. EVER. You probably won’t even finish reading this review because you’ll already be running to the library. Yes, it’s that good. Check it out:

Book Jacket:

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered. With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

You can read an excerpt here.


This book won the 2010 Locus Award for best Young Adult novel. That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

The story is just fantastic, truly original and inventive – and the competing technologies managed to hit ever geek and nerd button I have in my brain.

It’s the outbreak of World War I and we have one protagonist, Alek, running around in pretty much the AT-AT every kid who ever watched Star Wars has wanted, and the other, Deryn, is flying around in a huge living whale blimp. What more could you possibly want?

But lest you think this book is just a tech-smorgasbord, above all else this is a good story. Our two leads are kids thrust into the adult world and both have everything to loose. They aren’t just running around – their actions carry emotional weight and serious consequences. This is a thoroughly satisfying read, a book that picks you up and runs away with you. If you haven’t dabbled in steampunk before, this is a great place to start.

Byrt Grade: A

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it….

The Book Smugglers say:

I can attest that all the hype is justified. The book is a non-stop action story, with an incredibly imaginative steampunkish world-building, two very sympathetic protagonists and amazing illustrations and I loved every minute of it.

SFWorld.com says:

In the end, Scott Westerfeld does a lot of the things with this novel that have rightfully earned him the reputation of a great storyteller.  He skillfully weaves Deryn and Alek’s stories towards their eventually meeting, keeping tension high throughout. He surrounds the main characters with a great supporting cast and he puts all of these people in a fascinating world with a great conflict that is a great mix of familiar and refreshingly new.  Leviathan is only the opening novel of a series, so the ending is just a beginning and in that, Westerfeld leaves me wanting more

Arthur Grossman via the New York Times says:

The novel is a study in opposites, of boy versus girl, working class versus aristocracy, British versus German, and its overlying thematic division of Darwinists and Clankers gives all of these a distinctive torque, while avoiding mapping neatly to any specific agenda. The novel’s concluding set piece features a grand, elegant and very satisfying hybridization that suggests that opposites can meet, collapse and mingle, and that this story has natural sequels, which I will undoubtedly read.