Thursday, May 27, 2010

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Leviathan

I've been swamped with prep for summer reading (Speaking of which, registration starts June 1. Use the link to the right.) so haven't gotten around to posting on this one. In fact, the book just perked to the top of a pile on my desk - I had forgotten about it. It's Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan. I've liked just about all of the Westerfelds that I've read. This one's no exception, but I thought it was written quite differently than his other ones. This one falls under the steampunk category. It takes place just as WWI is breaking out, but in an alternate Europe. Science has progressed a bit differently than it did in our world. Europe is split between the Darwinists, who have harnessed the secrets of DNA and crossed the DNA of very different species to get new altered species that are used for things like travel, and the Clankers who rely on machines. The story is told from 2 alternating points of view. The first is Prince Alex of Austria, who's parents have just been assassinated and he is being whisked off into hiding by men loyal to his late father. The Austrians are Clankers. The other is Deryn, a young girl disguised as boy to try to join the British Air Service. The British are Darwinists. Deryn ends up on a giant airship/beast called Leviathan. It is composed of primarily whale DNA, with other things mixed in that allow it to produce hydrogen from the food it eats and use that to levitate and fly. Passengers can ride in a gondola attached to the beast, or actually crawl around inside it. That seems to gross out some folks who hear about this book, but it didn't faze me. Of course the 2 main characters paths intersect, just as war is breaking out. I liked it a lot. I'll warn you that it ends screaming for a sequel, and one is in the works. I'll be getting that as soon as it's available. It's a cool alternate look at both science and history. Nothing objectionable for middle school readers, but enough meat to keep high school students interested as well, especially if you're into the genre.


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