Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A Whale of a tale

I’ve been a busy reader! I finished three books the past week and nearly finished another. I also finished listening to one audiobook.

First I owe a review of Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. I’ll post that then work on those other reviews.

In this alternative historical fiction novel, we hear the stories of two young teens: Alek – a young prince in the Austria-Hungry Empire and Deryn Sharp – a young girl posing as a boy in order to join the ranks of the Royal British Airmen. The world is on the brink of World War I. When Alek’s parents are assassinated, armies are thrown into action. This war, however, is not like the one we learned about as children. It is also a war between the Darwinists – people who have devised ways of making new creatures using Darwin’s theories, and the Clunkers – people who rely on machines in the same way the Darwinist rely on fabricated animals.

Alek and a few loyal followers escape in the night, using an old Walker – a type of fighting machine that walks on two legs. They race over the countryside to neutral land in Switzerland where they hope to escape the war.

Deryn is a midshipman on the Leviathan – a gigantic, living and breathing whale of a ship (literally). When the ship is shot by Germans, it crashes in the mountains of Switzerland. It is there that the two teens cross paths.

There is a lot of action in this book, which makes it a fast read. As I was reaching the end of it, I realized that I didn’t have nearly enough pages left to finish the story. This had me hoping there is a sequel. Thankfully there is! Not so thankfully, I have to wait!

The stories of Deryn and Alek are wonderfully intertwined. The book bounces back and forth between the two characters without seeming choppy or interrupting the flow. The realization that, though they are on different sides of philosophical and technological thinking, doesn’t mean they are on different sides of the war is a logical conclusion of the events that take place.

This is a wonderful tale, full of fascinating creatures and machines. It had me doing some research on the real event surrounding the beginning of WWI to see how much was altered for this book. I love when a book makes me want to learn more.

Oh, and I adore the illustrations by Keith Thompson. I found myself examining them and looking for the details that were described in the story.

No comments: