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.
Leviathan is my first introduction to steampunk, and what an awesome first experience it has been. The world that Leviathan is situated in is a terrific creation; brimming with imaginative creatures and fascinating machines.
Leviathan is set in Europe, 1914, and while it has parallels that run closely with World War 1, in this world, Europe and its countries are on the brink of war – but it’s the Clankers V the Darwinists. The Clankers are creators of war machines, hulking machinery that defies the normal conventions of what we think machines are. The Darwinists are scientists; evolving and manipulating the gene codes of animals into living, flying contraptions and new animal hybrids. The Leviathan, a flying ship that consists of a whale and other creatures, is one of them!
Prince Alek, the male protagonist, is a Clanker and he’s on the run after his parents were murdered. His own people, and the Germans, are hunting him, and in his possession he holds a closely guarded secret that would upset the Austrian throne. Armed with his devastating Stormwalker and with his few trusted companions, Alek flees across the country to Switzerland. And along the way, Alek meets Deryn: a girl disguised as a boy who is part of the crew on the Leviathan.
This is such a gripping book to read, and it’s packed full of action and excitement. I did have to concentrate that extra bit harder whilst reading to get the imagery of the machines and hybrids into my head, but the illustrations that are featured inside the book helped greatly – and what beautiful illustrations they are.
The protagonists, Alex and Deryn, are young teenagers and both lead very different lives. Deryn is very sharp-witted and humorous, and comes from Britain which is a Darwinist land. In a world where women should be wearing corsets and not doing the jobs that men do, Deryn refuses to go by society’s rules. Deryn wants to become an airman. She wants the opportunities that are denied her because of her sex, so she goes out and takes her dreams in her hands and makes them real.
I really liked Deryn’s fearless attitude and her loyalty to the service when she becomes part of the crew. Deryn does have a brash mouth, and she’s naturally feisty, but she makes for a very likeable character that has spirit. She is the only girl – the unknown girl – among the Leviathan, and she manages to fit in seamlessly with the crew of men on board.
Alek is equally as strong, though he has a lot more emotional baggage to carry around that’s very fresh for him. I saw a vulnerability surrounding Alek that Deryn doesn’t have – he’s not as confident, he’s been forced out of his protective bubble into a harsh world, and I thought at times he was very unsure of himself which made for a refreshing change.
While Deryn loves the excitement of being an airman, she doesn’t love the devastation of war around her and the lives it costs, and the same goes for Alek, who is forced to defend himself at all costs.
The story flowed along without a hitch, and the secondary characters added to the already colourful story – especially the ‘boffin’ who is an important scientist who carries with her very valuable objects that haven’t been revealed yet, and Count Volger, whom is Alek’s sword-master and now caretaker.
I do have to admit, some of the scenes that describe the mechanical parts of the machines I quickly skimmed over. Usually, this is not my kind of book I would normally read. I lurve romance, and most of the books I read always have that playing alongside in the story, but the premise of Leviathan is so strangely new to me, that it grabbed my attention and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The ending of Leviathan is very much a continuation, and I’m hoping secrets that were kept secret in Leviathan will be revealed in book two called Behemoth, which comes out in October this year.
I give Leviathan 5 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me this book for review.
Here’s the fabulous trailer of Leviathan: Book Trailer
And here is the link to some of the illustrations that feature inside the book. Scroll down to halfway page: Illustrations