Title: Leviathan (#1), Behemoth (#2), and Goliath (#3).
Author: Scott Westerfeld.
Synopsis: The world is enveloped in The Great War - Clankers against Darwinists.
Alek is the heir to the Austrian throne and is running for his life to escape his uncle, the emperor, who wishes him dead.
Deryn is a girl dressed up as a boy, serving in the British Air Service.
When the two cross paths by chance, many adventures ensue.
Will Alek end the war?
Will Deryn's secret be revealed?
And, most importantly, will Borvil, the Perspicacious Loris, quit repeating everything and learn to think for himself?!
My rating: 8/10 stars for the whole series.
Why I liked the story: I loved these books. They were so creative! They were in the genre Steampunk (which is kind of an alternate history), which gave the author a LOT of creative freedom. Mr. Westerfeld did a great job with that. I especially liked the Leviathan (an airship). He also did a GREAT job changing World War One into his own thing, without changing too much history. I loved the little mentions on real people... Like Edison and Henry Ford.
The characters. I know, I know... I mention characters every time.... But these were really good characters! I especially liked Deryn and the background characters (like Count Volger and Klopp).
Speaking of Deryn.... I was talking with Miss Jack about Deryn (and other female characters who dress as guys) and we both agree that Deryn is done very well. Usually girl characters who dress as guys think they are the best thing since sliced bread and think they can do everything by themselves without a guy's help. Deryn doesn't think she can do everything. She acts just like all her crew mates... Loyal, brave, and would do anything for her friends.
I loved how Westerfeld kept Deryn's secret from Alek until the last book. It really helped the story and was a good way to go.
There was a relaly good message of friendship and telling the truth.
The book took place in a lot of different locations (London, Austria, Istanbul [was Constantinople, now it's Istanbul not Constantinople, been a long time gone, old Constantinople, still it's Turkish delight, on a moonlit night....], Japan, Siberia America... lots of places). I love books that take place in many many locations. (Like Tintin!)
The drawings! Oh my word. Beautiful! I love black and white drawings.... Sidney Paget type work. These book were illustrated in that way and it was great!
BORVIL! He was so cute. On that note, I shall go onto what I didn't like.
Why I didn't like the story/things you should know: There were several things that stood out to me about these books that I didn't particularly like....
I'll start out with the smallest things. There were some swear words in the books, especially the last one. Only a couple (less than the Larklight series). I don't remember any in the first two... Except Deryn's "barking spiders!"
Deryn and Alek's relationship. Now, Deryn falls in love with Alek pretty quickly, but since he doesn't know that Deryn is actually a girl, Deryn can't tell him. When he finally finds out in the third book, he ignores her for awhile. But then, in the end, falls in love with her as well... And ends up killing a man for her.
Anyway, Alek and Deryn know each other for about four or five months. Those five months are war-torn and ravaged. Alek doesn't even know Deryn is a girl until near the end. They have a very strong friendship before that.
My point is, that, Alek and Deryn really don't know the 'real' Alek and Deryn. Alek is devastated that his parents are dead, and he thinks the war is his fault, and therefore, he has a responsibility to stop it.
Deryn is a girl dressed as a boy.
They don't know the real Alek and Deryn, the Alek and Deryn outside of the war. Alek ends up throwing away his throne to be with Deryn in the end and they don't even know if they will like each other after the war. They are only sixteen or so in the book.
That aside, I can still say that I was hoping they would get together because they do go well together. =)
Some of it was confusing... The biggest question I had was about Deryn and Newkirk. They were midshipmen, newly enlisted in the Air Service, yet they seemed to have a pretty high rank and could order people around. Their opinions were taken into regard. To me, it would seem that midshipmen, newly enlisted, wouldn't have so much power... But I don't know. Anyone out there know?
The two major powers in this series are the Clankers and the Darwinists. The Clankers rely heavily on machines that they make. The Darwinists "fabricate" beasts. Once upon a time, Darwin (in this alternate history) figured out how to separate the life threads and then mix them up again to create something new, like a Tigeresque or an Elephantine, or Leviathan itself. All of the beasties are fabricated from many different species. Leviathan itself is made out of over 100 different species.
I think that you need to be careful when reading books like this. At the same time, I can appreciate the author's creativity. I know the real story - God created animals and there is no way to take the different life threads and mix them together to make something different.
Have I read it before? Nope.
Will I read it again? Maybe!
Would I recommend it? Yes! Just be careful with the whole Darwinist thing. Also, this book probably isn't for smaller children.... I'd say 12+
Now I start reading Moby Dick. Scary!
Live long and prosper!