March 18, 2011

review: behemoth

Behemoth - Scott Westerfeld

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. 


The sequel to Leviathan does not disappoint. The war continues, and Deryn and Alek are still in the middle of it. Where most of the first book dealt with bringing Deryn and Alek together, Behemoth follows their adventures both aboard the airship and in the streets of the Ottoman Empire. The captain gives Deryn a secret mission involving the behemoth. Alek and his Clanker comrades are forced to escape after a supposed mutiny. And Dr. Barlow offers up the airship itself to the leader of the empire, creating a basket of troubles on all sides.

I was enamored by the first book, but the second book is even better. The problems I had with Leviathan were non-existent in the sequel. If you remember, my inner animal activist surfaced while reading Leviathan, but the treatment of animals in Behemoth is less appalling; the author toned it down quite a bit. The Ottoman Empire is supposed to be neutral, but its makeup is strictly Clanker, funded and maintained by Clanker powers. Behemoth brings out more of the steampunk qualities than Leviathan did.

Behemoth is less militaristic as well, and the story is more about the relationship between Deryn and Alek. Deryn begins to develop feelings for Alek, though she can't admit them because she is posing as a boy. Alek's status as a noblemen is known, but no one realizes he is the son of the assassinated Arch-duke, or that he is the mandated heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. Should the Darwinists aboard Leviathan find that out, then Alek will be imprisoned. There is much less of Dr. Barlow and Count Volger, but in the Ottoman Empire, they meet an American journalist who is quite colorful. Also, turns out the Americans take the best of the Darwinist and Clanker inventions.

This is a bit of a garbled review, I understand, but I didn't want to give much of the plot away, especially since this is the second installment. I originally gave Leviathan five stars, but after reading Behemoth, Leviathan hardly compares. I bumped Leviathan down.

If you like anything steampunk, historical science fiction, militaristic, or adventure novels, please pick up the Leviathan series. I promise you that the books are amazing, and you'll love them.

Reading level: Young Adult
Format: Hardback, 496 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Rating: ★★★★★

1 comment:

  1. I'm on my school library's waiting list for this book. There's about 17 junior high kids ahead of me. Rats...