Thursday, October 20, 2011

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.


Istanbul is one of my favorite cities, but there are very few books set in that fantastical bridge between Europe and Asia.  Behemoth is one of the few!  I loved exploring the winding streets with Alek and Deryn, and especially imagining spice battles raging throughout the Grand Bazaar.

Of course, this isn't the Istanbul I remember.  The Ottoman Empire (the series is set during an alternate World War I) is a mostly Clanker nation who makes machines that look like animals.  That means the taxis are shaped like beetles, and the delegates are taken to the sultan's palace in a giant elephant-shaped walker.  I so wish Istanbul were really like that!

Westerfeld once more tells a great adventure story set in a wholly believable world of fabricated beasties and steaming machines.  Alek is a bit more relatable in this second book, I thought, and Deryn is still absolutely wonderful.  They have to deal with their secrets and the surprises that inevitably crop up--including maybe the most awesome animal in all imagination--Bovril, the perspicacious loris.

Five out of five revolutionaries.

Release Date:  October 2010
Reading Level: Grade 7+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL WES

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