04 January 2011

Tuesday Review: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Behemoth Bookplate

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead.

I crammed both Leviathan and Behemoth into the last few days of 2010. They were both enjoyable reads and left me wanting more. I was delightfully suprised by the fact that both the books were beautifully illustrated by Keith Thompson The illustrations enhanced the world of the story incredibly. I liked the plotting, and both the historical basis and the departure from it were seamless and believable. I found the characterization good, but the characters don't exactly grow much during the series. Perhaps this is because the book takes place in such a short time frame (months) that there is not much time for the characters to grow. It seems like they are spending all their time dealing with the situations to have a real development period. However, the characters are proactive about their situations, they don't spend their time merely reacting, so this lack of growth is not annoying. It could be a contributor, though, in making the book feel a bit younger than my usual YA fare (although that could also be due to the illustrations, or the young age of the main characters). I think the true spark in this book, though, is in the world-building. Westerfeld has created a beautiful world that is strikingly different from our own based on only a few premises: what if Darwin continued his studies and discovered DNA and how to manipulate it, and what if countries either adopted that or utilized machine technology in protest? The creatures and machines are all described with enough detail that you can picture them even without the illustrations, but not so much that it drags down the story. They paint a gorgeous new world that I want to play in. Goliath, coming out in Oct. 2011, is certainly going on my wishlist!

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you! Even though there isn't much drama/character growth, the books are still wildly creative, fast paced, and exciting reads. I loved them, and can't wait till October. I wish Goliath was out now. Great review!