Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld Review

7826215As my interest in history grows, I thought I might as well go back to read Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan for a second time.

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.-goodreads.com summary

“Maybe this was how you stayed sane in wartime: a handful of noble deeds amid the chaos.”

I first read Leviathan back in middle school after hearing about its gorgeous illustrations. I don’t remember having too strong of feelings towards the book but I do own the whole series and have read only the first two books. This year we were discussing World War I in my history class and I though why not reread Leviathan and attempt to finish the series… so here we are!

The biggest draw of Leviathan, at least for me, is the illustrations. They are all perfect and really help to imagine what is happening in the scenes. For readers who prefer to imagine the characters how they want, fear not, you can simply ignore the illustrations and picture Alek and Deryn as you wish! But as for me, I love them.

The other major draw of Leviathan was the alternate history/steampunk concept. This isn’t a genre that I read very often but as my interest in history has grown, I have found myself reading more historical based fiction. Everyone thinks ‘what if’ about something and Scott Westerfeld’s what if pertains to WWI, machinery, and Darwinism. It’s interesting to see what in Leviathan was based more in fact and what parts were purely Scott Westerfeld’s imagination.

Alek being the son of arch duke Ferdinand is an interesting way to introduce him to the reader because he is no longer safe with his own people nor is he safe in enemy territory. This leads him to relate well to Deryn, because neither is truly accepted for who they really are and both have a secret they are trying to keep. Speaking of which, Deryn was my favorite character when I originally read Leviathan, and she still is! She is just such a fun and likable character and her love for flying is delightful!

My only real issue with Leviathan is that the plot feels lacking. Many times I will forgive a slower plot for the sake of amazing character development, but, while Alek and Deryn are great, the side characters are just kind of there. I never really felt attached to anyone other than the two leads. This causes me to notice that I’m not ever that invested in the story. I could put down Leviathan for a week and barely think about how much I want to finish it.

Overall, I enjoyed Leviathan enough to read it twice, which is pretty good! It is a creative alternate history novel with strong leads but lacking side characters. I recommend it for fans of Scott Westerfeld and any interested in an alternate WWI story.

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  1. I listened to this series on audiobook - Alan Cumming's narration really made it for me! :)

    1. Audiobooks are great! I used to never listen to them, but I have found they are a great way to get some reading done while busy


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