Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Goliath

Goliath

Scott Westerfeld
Illustrator:  Keith Thompson 
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2011   ISBN: 978-1416971771

Just two weeks ago, Alek and Deryn were participating in a revolution in Istanbul doing something meaningful and exciting. Now they are once again on board the Leviathan, and they are sailing over the cold and inhospitable Siberian landscape. Alek is no longer a daring young prince who people listened to, and who was doing something to bring about peace. He is once again a quasi captive prince-in-name-only, who is unable to do anything the correct his family’s mistakes.

Then a two-headed eagle bearing a message from the Russian czar arrives, and soon after the Leviathan picks up some cargo that contains (among other things) the parts of a strange machine. Not having anything else to do, Alek and his men proceed to put the machine together, and with the help of Dr. Barlow and Deryn, they figure out that the Clanker-made device is a metal detector of sorts and it is particularly sensitive to iron.  No one will tell the two young people who the device belongs to, though they do learn that their next stop will be to pick up the “Clanker boffin” who made the machine.

Not longer after picking up the cargo, they get to a place where all the trees have been flattened for miles and miles. At the center of all this devastation, they see the bones of an airbeast, and a small collection of buildings. Starving fighting bears prowl around the little settlement, kept at bay by a barbed wire fence. When the people in the settlement are rescued and brought aboard the Leviathan, Deryn and Alek find out that the man they were sent to rescue is none other than Nikola Tesla, the eccentric scientist who loves to build machines that harness the power of electricity. Tesla was making weapons for the Clanker powers, but he has now decided to defect to the Darwinist cause, and he claims to have built a weapon that will ensure that the war in Europe will come to an end.

After Tesla gives a demonstration of his new weapon in Tokyo, it is decided that the Leviathan will transport him to New York City so that he can complete his work, and hopefully use his device, Goliath, to bring peace to the world.
Feeling guilty because his family’s actions started the war, Alek assists Tesla in any way he can. He feels it is his destiny to stop the war. He will not listen to reason, refusing to accept that the war would have happened no matter what, even if his parents hadn’t been assassinated.

After they find Tesla in Siberia and while they are on their way to Tokyo, Alek finally realizes that his friend Dylan is actually a girl called Deryn. It is a shock of course, but what troubles Alek the most is that Deryn lied to him. Though their friendship has been tested, Alek and Deryn admit that they need one another. They are “connected” and from now on they will be honest with each other, about everything. Alek does not know that Deryn has one little secret that she is keeping from him, but soon enough he finds out what it is, and it changes his life.

In this powerful final installment in the Leviathan trilogy, Scott Westerfeld once again weaves together fact and fiction to give readers a steampunk tale that is exciting and full of surprises. Readers who have been following Deryn and Alek’s adventures will be delighted to see how these two very different young people manage to land on their feet, in spite of everything.

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