A very steampunk April Fools' Day to you! Actually I wonder what steampunk AFD jokes would look like? Glue in the parasol? Black greasepaint on the edges of goggles to make those racoon rings? Explosives in the coal that makes the steam that powers the punk? Airship shennanigans?
Anyway, the book isn't perfect, but the world it is set in just might be. It makes me waint to don my best petticoat and set sail on an aeroship of adventure!
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Alek is the somewhat spoiled son of the Archduke Ferdinand and his commoner wife Sophie. He has to go on the run when they are killed. Dylan is the daughter and sister of airmen and wants to be an airman too despite the inconvenient fact of being a girl. With the help of her brother she studies both how to be a boy and how to be an airman. She used to love going up in the air with her dad, before he died, and she wants to spend the rest of her life with the feeling of being so high up above everything else. She becomes Deryn, a midshipman on the giant Darwinist airship "Leviathan" after an adventure. When the book starts the tensions are tight between the Clankers and the Darwinists. The Clankers build giant metal machines, but the Darwinist create their technology using the "lifethreads" of various animals. On a ship as large as the Leviathan the Darwinist technology creates an entire ecosystem of things like messenger lizards, hydrogen sniffing dogs, hydrogen producing bacteria and even glow worms.
We switch from Alek's point of view to Deryn's regularly through the plot to see the build-up to the Darwinist/Clanker war from both sides. The two are destined to meet but it is hard to tell when that will happen. The cast of characters is rich, including both the crew and passengers of the Leviathan as well as Alek's loyal crew traveling in a 2-legged Clanker war-machine called a Stormwalker. Everything is very richly drawn and even in some places beautifully illustrated. Westerfeld's world building is impeccable. My only wish is that he'd ratcheted up the tension and urgency throughout the book. Even during battle and chase scenes I was never really worried about the fates of the main characters or any of the "mysteries" aboard the ship. This didn't detract as much as you might think and a few times the characters managed to surprise me with their courses of action. I'm eagerly awaiting the next two books in this trilogy.
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