Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
In an alternate history of World War I, European powers are not split as much by political preferences as by their philosophies on progress: Germany and Austro-Hungary are known “Clanker” countries, and are powered by extraordinary machines. England, on the other hand, is a powerful “Darwinist” country, creating fantastic recombinant animals. The main characters each represent one of these powers: Deryn is an English girl, disguised as a boy to serve in her country’s air force, and Aleksandar is the only son of the Archduke Ferdinand, whose assassination started WWI. I was drawn to Leviathan largely on account of Deryn: “Without hesitation, without a thought of what Jaspert [her brother] had said about not drawing attention, and with the last squick of nerves in her belly gone, Deryn Sharp took one step forward. ‘Please, sir. I’d like to fly.'” (P. 33). The quick referral I gave to my friends went like this: “It’s a truly awesome Steampunk version of World War one, with giant flying beasts, a girl proving that there is no “weaker sex”, and it has really nice pictures now and then, as well!”
Letter Grade: A+ . The + was almost taken away on account of the sequel not available yet, but was brought back many times over by the amazing illustrations by Keith Thompson.
Stars, out of 5: 5
Written by Deirdre, class of 2012