Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Leviathan

Leviathan

Scott Westerfeld
Illustrator:  Keith Thompson 
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2009   ISBN: 978-1416971740

Deryn has a secret. More than anything, she wants to be a member of the British Air Service. More than anything, she wants to fly in some kind of airship again, and she will do whatever it takes to make this happen. The problem is that girls are not allowed to enter The Service, so Deryn poses as a boy. She is not very developed, so she is able to make herself look like a boy quite easily.

On the day of her airman midshipman’s test, Deryn volunteers to go up in the air using a Huxley ascender, a fabricated beast that looks like a giant jellyfish. What no one knows is that a storm is brewing, and before Deryn can come down from her flight, she and the Huxley are blown across London and towards the English Channel. Thankfully, an enormous airbeast called the Leviathan comes to the rescue, and Deryn is taken on board. With war brewing in Europe, it is decided that Deryn will stay on board, to her great satisfaction.

Meanwhile, an Austrian prince called Alek finds out that his parents have been assassinated. Alek’s faithful servants whisk him away in a Stormwalker, a huge walking machine. Dogged by their enemies, the Austrians race for the Swiss border. The hope is that they can stay hidden in neutral Switzerland until the war is over, and then Alek can come out of hiding to claim his birthright. Everything is going according to plan when the Leviathan crash lands on the doorstep of Alek’s hiding place. Suddenly machine-centric Alek has to come to terms with dealing with Deryn, an English midshipman who thinks machines are rubbish and who believes wholeheartedly in the efficacy of fabricated beasts. Can two very different young people work together towards one common goal?

This is the first of what promises to be a thrilling series. Full of steampunk contraptions and fantastic creatures, the book’s story is loosely based on what happened in Europe in 1914. Black and white illustrations throughout the book give the title an authentic Victorian feel. Readers who like books packed with adventures, wild machines, and otherworldly animals will greatly enjoy this title.

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