Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Scott Westerfeld
Illustrator:  Keith Thompson 
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2010   ISBN: 978-1416971757

Alek is the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and like so many of the people in his part of Europe, he is a Clanker, a person who believes in the power of machines. Since the assassination of his parents, war has been spreading across Europe, and Alek has been on the run. Considering who and what he is, it is very strange indeed that he is now traveling on the Leviathan, a huge living airship that was created by English scientists. Surrounded by English Darwinsists – people who use genetically modified animals in lieu of machines – Alek is in a very precarious position. He does not want anyone to know who he really is, and he has to do everything he can to avoid falling into the hands of the Germans.

When the Leviathan gets to Constantinople, Alek escapes and he ends up allying himself with a group of revolutionaries who want to overthrow the Sultan. They want to have a democracy in their country, and not a sultanate that is actually a vassal of Germany. In the meantime, Alek’s English friend from the Leviathan, Deryn, is doing what she can to help the English to win the Sultan over to the Darwinist cause. However, it soon becomes clear that the Sultan is firmly in the German camp, and the English have to come up with another plan. If the Sultan is not going to join them voluntarily, then they will have to force him to do so. Deryn is given an important mission to do, one that will allow the Leviathan to use England’s newest weapon against the Sultan and his German overlords.

Deryn and Alek meet in the ancient city and they discover that the cause of the revolutionaries and the cause of the Darwinists is not dissimilar. If they work together, they might be able to make a real difference in the war, but there is no doubt that the cards are stacked against them.

This book continues where Leviathan left off, and it is just as exciting as the first book was. Bit by bit, Alek and Deryn open up more and more to each other. Secrets are shared, and they work together in an effort to bring the war to a close. The author of this book has created a world that readers of all ages will enjoy exploring.