I was so excited to read Behemoth, that when I held the ARC in my hands at Comic Con, I seriously considered running off with it. Christine had, apparently, planned out an escape route for us. Alas, I didn’t get to keep the ARC (legally or otherwise) but I was able to gaze lovingly at the artwork every time we passed the Simon and Schuster booth. I love everything about these books. From the accurate historic facts, to the steampunk machines, to the crazy genetic-smooshing science (genetic-smooshing being the technical term, of course). I love the artwork, the writing, the cover (though I liked the original cover better) and, most of all, I love the writing.
Leviathan and Behemoth are the only books that I’ve read recently where I enjoyed the switching of point of views. It was always done smoothly and at points where the switch felt right. Scott Westerfeld always does a good job of showing you what needs to be shown from both point of views without ever repeating himself or having there be weird overlap.
The Leviathan series is, at its simplest, a steampunk retelling of World War I. Sure, Scott has taken some liberties with historic fact but the core motivations, alliances, and manipulations are still there. And the war is being told through the eyes of two young teenagers from opposite sides of the war.
What I love most about this book, and its predecessor is how it is faithful to WWI while still creating its own unique, fictional plot. The reader still gets a sense that it is a useless war, fought only so politicians could show their supremecy over one another. I also enjoy that, while there is a slight bias against the Germans, we see people from all over Europe for and against the war.
My previous review of Leviathan covers all the things that I love about Alek and Deryn, so instead I’m going to talk about a few other things.
Firstly, cross dressing. Deryn is still posing as a boy in the British Air Force, still a midshipman on the airship Leviathan. And I love all the wonderful things done with this. The number of characters that refer to her, sarcastically, as Mr. Sharp is funny and surprising. I especially loved the last one. I love how Deryn is of two minds all the time as well. She wants to continue being disguised, and she wants to reveal she is a girl. This resulted in two of my most favourite scenes in this book. The being when Deryn, confidently and wonderfully, realizes that Alek could love her if he knew. She isn’t shy or self-conscience about it. She just knows. And she makes an informed, intelligent decision based on that realization and I loved her so much for it. The second scene was later on and used one of my much loved, sarcastic, Mr. Sharp’s. I’m not going to say what it was for fear of spoiling it, but let’s just say that Mr. Westerfeld managed to do a thousand things with one little scene and I laughed out loud. It was just perfect.
The second thing I wanted to talk about, intrigue and politics. So many different levels of it. The global level of what’s going on what country wants what in the war, the personal level of Alek and his heritage, and the weird science level of…what is that creature following Alek around everywhere? And why does he even have it? He’s a Clanker not a Darwinist. So many things to think about.
Everything was just so perfectly balanced. The action, the intrigue, the character moments. I was never bored or wanting something else to happen. A perfect cast of characters mixed with the perfect balance of fact and fiction.
And, and, and, and!!!!!! Reading this book totally helped me with a crossword answer one time. I LEARNED things. You can too!
So…yeah. I loved it.