Monday, November 22, 2010

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Book Jacket

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 loved Westerfeld's Uglies series, so when I discovered he had a new series out (first Leviathan, then Behemoth), I jumped to read them.  While I like the futuristic techological story of the Uglies books more, I was still very much caught up in the alternate-history world of Behemoth.  To be honest, World War I never much interested me, but a story that follows Archduke Ferdinand's fictional son on an adventure through Istanbul?  In a world where one side of the war (Clankers) fights with machines and the other side (Darwinists) with fabricated "beasties"?  My interest is piqued.  And not only with the fictional world which Westerfeld created--reading his alternate history made me want to know more about what actually went down in the 1910s.

Alek is a believable aristocrat thrown into the real world.  He is talented and gifted, but his flaws (like an unfortunate inability to keep his identity secret) are realistic enough to gain reader empathy.  Deryn is the perfect soldier, with great instincts and a level head in the heat of battle.  However, she is also a girl.  Both her position in the British military and her unrequited crush on Alek (who simply thinks of her--who Alek thinks is a him--as a friend) could come to disastrous ends if her secret is revealed.

I loved the characters, and that is what makes me love a book.  Added to that is my love for Istanbul and the giddy joy I felt reading about the spices and chaos of the Grand Bazaar.  Behemoth is a quick read, filled with adventure and secrets and skulking around in the night.  Make sure you read Leviathan first, though!

Four out of five stars.

Release Date:  October 2010
Reading Level:  Grade 7+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  Not yet owned by Dunlap.

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