Leviathan by Scott Westerfield | Teen Ink

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

February 23, 2011
By MiuBlaze BRONZE, Upper Darby, Pennsylvania
MiuBlaze BRONZE, Upper Darby, Pennsylvania
3 articles 1 photo 7 comments

When I first picked up "Leviathan" by Scott Westerfield, I wasn't sure what to expect. I mean, I got an introduction it from my teacher, but it's not like I read an excerpt and I know what the actual text is like. However, I am extremely pleased that I decided to read it. It was a great book that I read in a single sitting.

It's the year 1914 and the beginning of World War I. Wait! Don't open those history books. That's right, put them back. Better yet, throw them under the bed so that you're not tempted to read them. Good readers. Anyway, moving on. It's the year 1914 and the beginning of World War I. (I know, I said that already. But it's your fault for opening the history books.) The reason you're not allowed to touch the textbooks is because this is quite different from you learned in history class. In this story, the Central Powers are referred to as "Clankers", due to their use of war machines and the Entente Powers are referred to as "Darwinists", because of their use of animals that they changed for war purposes (Don't ask, ok? Besides, if you want to know so badly, all you need to do is read the book, right?). Now, the question you are all asking is, "Who are the main characters?". I was getting to that, but I'll tell you now anyway. I mean, we all love our main characters.

From the Clankers, we have a 15 year old, Prince Aleksander of Hapsburg! (But we all call him Prince Alek, it makes him feel better about his absurdly long name.) From the Darwinists, we have Deryn Sharp! (She is a girl, if the name confuses you.) Prince Alek's life has completely turned upside down and inside out when he gets kidnapped by his teachers and is told that his parents were murdered. And now, he is on the run. Deryn's story isn't as tragic, but it's interesting anyway. She has disguised herself as a boy and goes by the name "Dylan Sharp" in order to be in the British Air Force. She's quite good as an airman, but her secret is in constant danger of being found out.

The point of view alternates with each chapter, starting with Prince Alek. Despite this constant shift from points of view, it isn't as annoying as you might think. Each chapter leaves off with you wanting to find out what happened next, so you remain interested in the life of both characters. Also, as you get closer to the end of the book, you look forward to the shift in perspective as the paths of Alek and Deryn meet.

From the beginning of the book, I was sucked in. I didn't even notice that the book was over until it was, well, over. Each page is filled with Westerfield's genius writing. Plus, you really get into the lives of the characters, (We're readers, and we're just plain nosy.) and you start to adore them more than your...whatever you guys adore!

Westerfield explains the concept of war machines and altered animals very well. The descriptions are so clear that it's impossible to not know what he's talking about. Not to mention that the astounding pictures drawn by Keith Thompson add to the comprehension. Speaking of pictures, did I mention what an awesome artist Thompson is? The pictures are just beautiful and perfect for the story!

One other cool feature of this book? You don't even need to know anything about the World War I, other than the fact that it existed! This was absolutely perfect for me, considering that I completely forgot everything I knew about that war. But who cares, anyway? This version of the war is way better!

In short, READ THIS BOOK! I mean it, really. If I find out that you didn't, I'm coming over to your house and I'm going to give the chewing out of your life! I really mean it, you know. You need to read this, it will make your life complete and happy, just like how an ice cream cone does.

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This article has 1 comment.

Lyssie B. said...
on Mar. 23 2011 at 1:09 am

So true.  I love Westerfeld's writing, but I was kind of leery of Leviathan at first.  I didn't think that I would like it at all--but the blurb on the back cover doesn't do this story justice.

The second book, Behemoth, is just as good (in my opinion).  I can't wait for the final book, Goliath, to come out!

This was a great article that really explained why Leviathan is so awesome without giving anything away.  Good job!