Reviews tagging 'Animal death'

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

3 reviews

jritc13's review

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  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


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rwalker101's review

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adventurous challenging funny medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


My love for this series escapes words, but I guess I'm going to try anyway.

I read this book when it first came out in 2009, having thoroughly enjoyed the Uglies series, but the second I got my hands on it I knew I was in for something special, and entirely different. The cover was beautiful, the premise intriguing (I'm a history buff who loves fiction books, this book is exactly my genre), and the illustrations by Keith Thompson were gorgeous. I vividly remember reading this book for the first time in the back of my 8th-grade French class, marking off the next brilliant image with my finger, reading hungrily to figure out how in the world Alek would find himself on top of a walker and hacking at a phosphor flare with a sword, or how Deryn would stare down a war machine with little more than a knife, or how our heroes would crash into the ice together, a gun between them.

This book enthralls me from beginning to end, no matter how much I read it. I reread this series every few years and every single time, I find myself grinning like a loon with every turn of the page. I know the story beats like the back of my hand, but they have never managed to lose their shine. It's the same kind of excitement you get at the end of a heist movie, when the whole convoluted plan is revealed in its entirety, and you are left to marvel at the sheer brilliance of heisters. No matter how much you rewatch that movie, that segment always gives a sense of satisfaction. That satisfaction is what I feel every single time I read this book. Couldn't tell you why, heisty stuff doesn't even happen until book two. But it's the same feeling, the same excitement, the same satisfying payoff. This is likely personal to me and only me. I don't care. I adore this book.

I used to call this book "baby's first steampunk" but the Darwinist elements turn it into something so much more than just another steampunk book (for one, it's set later than most steampunk books are, using WWI as its setting, over the much more popular Victorian era). This book shines with creativity and care from every inch - it is so apparent that Westerfeld took delicate care with his alternate history, considering it from every angle, learning of the delicate politics that dragged the entirety of Europe to war and how those would influence and be influenced into the technological advances he's added. These advances are put on full display during the fights, all of which are bombastic and breathtaking in the best way. I hope someday I'm about to choreograph a battle scene half as well as they're choreographed here.

This book's world was crafted so carefully that it is obvious that it was a labor of love, and every time I read it I feel that love myself. I adore this story and these characters. I often find myself daydreaming of great clockwork machines and genetically engineered warships. I want to climb ratlines on a giant whale in the sky - is that too much to ask??? 

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bluejayreads's review against another edition

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 I first read this book back in 2012, and I enjoyed it so much that it landed on my Top Five Favorites of the year. (Unfortunately, I read it before I started this blog in September 2012, so I don't have a review from my first read-through.) It was my very first foray into steampunk and got me hooked on the genre, and when I discovered my library had it as an audiobook I decided to give it a reread and see if it holds up nine years later. 

I didn't read the back cover before jumping into the book, and I had legitimately forgotten that Aleksander existed as a character, so that was a bit of a surprise when I started reading. But it didn't take me long at all to get back into the swing of the story. 

Leviathan is set in an alternate universe where Charles Darwin not only discovered evolution but also DNA, and many parts of Europe jumped right into playing with genes to make specialized creatures to replace machines. Deryn works on an airship that's really a giant living whale, designed so its digestive system creates hydrogen that makes it lighter than air and for it to be mostly hollow so humans can climb in and around it and carry stuff inside its living body. Aleks's country is one of the parts of Europe that thought playing with DNA was ungodly and instead used actual machinery and giant mech robots to do stuff. They can't heal themselves like the Darwinist living creatures can, but they also don't have minds of their own, so it's a trade-off. When Aleks and Deryn meet, there's a delightful clash of cultures along with all the adventure of Aleks running for his life and Deryn working on a living airship. 

This is one of those books where there's not much to it - it's mostly devoid of Morals, Important Themes, Literary Importance, or anything else deep and meaningful lurking beneath the surface - but hot damn is it fun. Though there are emotions and tension, they aren't strong enough to create anything I might call an emotional core (though I definitely wouldn't say it's emotionless and I absolutely enjoyed the characters." There are quite a few darker bits, as one might expect from an alternate version of the start of World War I, but on the whole it's an absolute delight of insubstantial entertainment. 

I do wish I had a review from the first time I read this to see if/how my opinion changed over the years, but this definitely holds up to a reread. I fully intend to read the rest of the series eventually (my library doesn't have the other books on audio, but I'm gonna request them). I know I read Behemoth before, but I don't think I ever got to the conclusion of the trilogy. Either way, this book was incredibly fun and I can't wait to keep going. 

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