She wanted to make a speech:
Hey, all you sods, I can fly and you can’t! A natural airman, in case you haven’t noticed. And in conclusion, I’d like to add that I’m a girl and you can all get stuffed!
I think I’ll always have an incredible soft spot for Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. I love everything about this book, from the fantastically imagined steampunk alternate universe of WWI to the incredible characters to the brilliant artwork that Keith Thompson added to the story there’s basically nothing about this book that I didn’t completely fall for. I’m so attached to this book, in fact, that I even have plans to name my daughter–if I ever have one–after Deryn Sharp. An alternate history of the first world war, Leviathan takes place across several countries in Europe and follows the young, now orphaned prince of Austria-Hungary and a young woman defying societal expectations for her gender by disguising herself as a boy in order to be admitted into service as an airman. While my adoration of the characters is immense, I do have to admit though that one of the best parts of this novel comes in the form of the Darwinist’s fabricated beasties–scientifically built animals whose DNA is mixed with other animals–and the Clanker’s steampunk machines.
In this alternate universe, the Allied Powers are the Darwinists who center their world around scientifically modified and grown creatures and the Central Powers are the Clankers who see the Darwinists as blasphemous and instead specialize in very steampunk related machines such as walkers. The way that Westerfeld incorporates these facets into his story is beyond brilliant and really did a masterful job of pulling me into the world. To date, Leviathan and its sequels are in my top two all-time favorite steampunk novels. And the brilliance of its characters ultimately is what brings this particular series to the number one spot.
With Deryn joining the military aboard the airship Leviathan and Alek on the run from those who would destroy him after the death of his father, Archduke Ferdinand, Westerfeld weaves an engaging story that left me eagerly turning pages to find out what would happen next. Admittedly, I spent a fair amount of the story waiting for the worlds of these two characters to collide. In truth, the war kind of does take a bit of a backseat to the rest of the goings on within the novel, but in truth, I personally prefer it that way. I’m not a big war aficionado and so having a more character focused novel is definitely something I enjoy more. Leviathan is definitely a novel I would recommend to others and I even bought a copy for one of my students last summer. Hands down, this is one of the best books I’ve ever read.