Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld; Simon Pulse 2009

It has seemed like this book has been everywhere since it was released in 2009.  I avoided it for as long as I could, and then borrowed it from the library. After reading more than halfway through, I found a copy at a book store, new, for $3.  So I bought it, returned the library copy, and finished reading the novel. I also bought the next in the series, Behemoth, for $4.  I expect I’ll be liking that book, too.

I have never read anything by Scott Westerfeld, but I know he writes mainly young adult novels.  I read the dust jacket on the cover of Leviathan and decided it was worth a read.  I don’t read a lot of young adult novels – I really do not like the “coming-of-age” or “teenage-angst” nonsense. I also do not like teenaged vampires, werewolves, or zombies.  But this novel looked like steampunk and alternate history – two categories I enjoy.

After the first two-hundred pages, I was really impressed with the book.  I am not sure what I expected; probably a very kiddie  “kid’s book” or maybe a boring story of kids dealing with the world that they find themselves in.  Instead, the story is told from the perspective of the two main characters, young teens named Alek and Dylan. The two kids come from different countries and, therefore, different worldviews.  Europe is on the cusp of the War and the war machines from the various sides include the Darwinist “genetically enhanced” machines (which are really animals) and the Clankers and their heavy-industrial machinery. The two main characters are active and involved in matters – they are not just ignorant youth who live in an adult world.

I wish this book was around when I was a young child, I would have really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it now, though, so I am not going to complain.  I do think that it’s target reading age is probably about 12-14, depending on the reader’s abilities.

Some reviewers have not found this book to their liking.  They talk about “tropes.”  Frankly, you just gotta read the book and enjoy the story. Get in the book and read it.  Stop worrying about whether or not it’s literature, truthful to history, or if it uses common themes found in novels.

The pages turn quickly in this novel, though there are over 400.  This is really fun because there are a whole pile of really cool illustrations (by Keith Thompson) throughout.  This is an action book – full of fun, madcap action and adventure.  And the quick-turning pages, the awesome illustrations, and the interesting storyline put the reader right in the action itself.  This is a fun book! Good entertainment and good adventure.

For the record, the Clanker Stormwalker is a very cool piece of machinery that made me think of Warhammer 40k.  Anyway, I want a life-size, working Stormwalker now.  So, maybe the book isn’t the greatest literature and maybe it is written in a style directed at young teenagers.  So what? This is fun and that’s something very important when reading any novel.  I’m giving it five stars because there isn’t anything I would change about it. The characters are interesting, the storyline is involved, the pacing is excellent, and the illustrations are great. Guilty pleasure for adults, perfect fun read for young teens.

5 stars

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