Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld (Illustrations- Keith Thompson)

Synopsis From Goodreads.
Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.


“A missing piece can be very bad for the puzzle, whether in the natural world, or politics, or here in the belly of an airship.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
That’s what I want to know, Alek. That’s what I want to know.

High Points.
Deryn. Alek. This world… wooow, why doesn’t it exist yet?! Huxleys. Darwinists. Clankers. Flying wales. Cow farts. Trinkets&Diddies. Messenger lizards. Science. Nature. Snowshoes. Tazza. Dr Barlow. Frostbitten bums. Odd kind of tingling. The prospect of sequels…

Low Points.
I think I’ll appreciate this book all the more when I look back on it after reading the others… which may or may not be zooming down the motorway to my house as I type.
This isn’t a gripe directed solely at Mr Westerfeld… more like everyone who has ever written a story where a girl dresses up as a boy and no one notices.
Yes, that’s right. It’s also directed at YOU director of Shakespeare in Love and that film where Channing Tatum takes his top off a lot and there’s football… sorry, soccer, involved!
She’s the Man.
Basically this rant is aimed at Shakespeare.
*shakes first*
Sure, I could get over it if the girl in question was like… a baby.
People would notice a sixteen year old girl (who looks extremely pretty in the illustrations, I need to add!) was gallivanting around a whale!
Even if her diddies are on the small side.
The whole idea of people changing one thing about themselves and all of the sudden are unrecognisable is a serious pet peeve of mine (I go off on one provide an extremely sound and mature argument in my Shadows on the Moon review.)
But you know what?! I don’t care because Deryn is brilliant and if anyone could fool a ship full of silly boys she could!

Oh Alek, I think you’re going to end up getting overshadowed in this review which is completely unfair because you are brilliant too.
But… well… Derynissocool……*whines*
Sorry, Alek. I’m back with you, promise.
You have all this ridiculous stuff happening around you and you still have the time to be a Grade A sweetheart? I applaud you because if I was an Austro-Hungarian prince I would be whinging like nobody’s business.
I loved how he was innocent and naïve and a bit of wimp but he was determined to learn and break-free of people’s perceptions of him and his ancestors and all that shebang.
I’m really excited to see where Alek’s learning curve takes him.
Also, the banter between him and Deryn was hilarious.

“Listen, I’m not really supposed to be this far from home. I just happened to be out hiking when I saw your ship come down.”
“Out hiking?” Deryn said. “In all this barking snow? At night?
“Yes. I often hike on the glacier at night.”
“With medicine?”

And I can’t wait to see what happens when what I think will happen happens!

Hero. Heroine. Hero? Jo’s Best Friend.
I’ve only read one book but already Deryn is one of my favourite female heroines.
She can fashion a zipwire while dangling under a squid-thing! I’m going to start adding that to my necessary friend requirements.
And this is the point where I would get slightly nervous because I always fall in love with fantastic heroines in the first book of a series and then get my heart dashed as it goes on (Looking at you, Katniss!)… but I have no doubt that Deryn and I are for keeps.
*fingers crossed*
And OH, I caught you with your tingling feelings after a certain prince hugged you. Don’t think I didn’t see that!
Just because you’re a soldier doesn’t mean you can’t twist your skirts every now and again… or um, you know… your uniformed pants.

Again, I can’t wait to see what happens when what I think will happen happens !


Deryn & Alek

When the wonderful Catie recommended this book to me to be part of my Illustrated Book Week I was sceptical because it didn’t look like the kind of book that should be illustrated.
I mean it wasn’t about magic or fairy tales or monsters.
It was about alternative war and machines and…. boy stuff.
But, boy am I glad it was illustrated?!
I think they are particularly important because they are so detailed and perfectly capture Westfeld’s fantastical world. They almost looked like they had been produced with the smog and grime and grease from one of the Clanker’s machines.

Possibly my favourite- Alek’s face
is hilarious.

What I loved was that even though they were highly detailed and intricate, they also managed to maintain their cartoon-ness (Is there a word for that?). I loved the pictures with the characters on them the most because Mr Thompson got their facial expressions perfectly.
Also, the fact that Deryn is taller than Alek was brilliant!

Theme Tune.
I couldn’t find any song that really went with giant whale airships and clanking.
So I’m* going to choose a song for my girl, Deryn.

*Well, I say I’m- fellow music lover Catie chose this one because I was too busy buying the next two books.

Sadness Scale.

3/10. Almost zilch but I think Alek’s story (if you know your…um, alternate history you’ll know what I mean) was really sad.
Poor little pup.
And also, while I’m thinking about it, Deryn’s story is sad as well. But she doesn’t tend to dwell…
I hope we’ll get to find out more about these and their feelings as the series goes on.

Recommended For.

People who are looking for a fast-paced, high-action book with great characters and fantastic potential for the rest of the books. People who live in places where they can’t get mobile reception but have an abundance of lizards who seem to listen to your conversations! People who think that the smell of fish and cow farts always lead to adventure. People who would look great in a bowler hat. People who actually use the words “boffin” and “ninny” in everyday conversations (I actually do, you know, when I’m not swearing like a lorry driver.) People who always take medicine when they go on their glacial hikes. Boys who couldn’t recognise a girl if she cut her hair short and wore pants. People who are suspicious of eggs. People who can’t wait to see what happens when what they think will happen happens.

Find out more here.

4 thoughts on “Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld (Illustrations- Keith Thompson)

  1. Ive just started this one and I love the world already :) I guess nowadays people would recognise a girl with short hair and trousers because we are used to it – I think maybe its just in these books, set in the time when a woman/girl would never do that, people only see what they expect to see. And sometimes men aren't all that perceptive bless 'em.

    I love the illustrations in this book. All books should be illustrated. It would make it slightly easier to find a job for my fellow illustrators at the least :D

  2. Ha, good review. You made me remember what I liked about the book (though ultimately there was too much about it that I didn’t like – the whole being inside a whale thing made me feel really queasy in a boycotting-vivisection-labs kind of way!)
    But Deryn was a great character, and although I can see your frustration with the no-one-notices-she’s-a-girl thing, I have to admit I’m a sucker for a breeches role.

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