Author: Scott Westerfeld
Release: October 6th 2009
Genre: Steampunk, YA
#1 in the Leviathan trilogy
Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.
Why do I keep getting disappointed by books lately? As with so much books lately, I had high expectations for this. I actually expected to absolutely love this and was sure this was going to be a five star rating, because so many said this was amazing and Westerfeld's writing was really good, blah blah blah. But alas, this was not the case for me.
I'll say that the premise of this drew me right in, made me say "I WANT THIS I am sure I am going to love this if not for the premise alone." It made me break my holy rule of not buying the whole series at once, and so I bought all three books right away. Now, I don't regret that decision (yet), because it wasn't horrible or anything, and I do see a lot of potential for the sequel(s), but maybe I will if they let me down, as well.
This was a rough start, it took about a hundred pages to really get into it and I didn't understand half of what was going on at first. I was confused, because a lot of things weren't explained right away. But, after a while you get the pattern and it gets interesting, and all at once, boring again. Just like that. Because until our two main characters meet, it's the same all the time for both of them. Aleksandar (Aleksander? The blurb and the book say something different) just runs away and is attacked, and Deryn is always flying through the air riskily. Woohoo. When they meet up, I thought things would finally be exciting at last and I would be fascinated. It was still quite boring. I even skipped a few passages because I didn't want to listen to all the blabber. Now, even though this book was about 85% action and 15% talking, sitting around, stuff like that, it still just felt slow. I don't know why, but it just did. The plot failed to grip me again after I lost interest. Sad, but true.
And the characters. I can understand Deryn's motivations, why she did what she does. And I liked her well enough, but she just had this stubborness and kind of arrogance about her that made her hard to like at first. And Alek? He was an idiot, I tell you. He couldn't make good decisions to save his life, literally, and I really can't tell you why I didn't absolutely hate him. He wasn't a good character. He did realize what he does is foolish, but it was always too late by then and I guess his awareness saved him from my strangles. Still, and it almost pains me to say this, there was something about him that really appealed to me, and I liked him, as well. Better than Deryn, at least. Maybe I'm just a bit biased because he speaks German, but oh well.
Dr. Bowler, however, was awesome. She was badass, and I loved her.
But speaking of German, I liked all the aspects of this. The German names — Klopp, Bauer, Hoffmann —, for example. And just all of that, even though we had to take all the blame for everything that went wrong, and all the attacks from the "bad guys" (Although, yeah, we were in fact the bad guys in both World Wars, I guess...). Ah, yes, in case you haven't guessed by now, I'm German. That's the reason why.
Anyways, things were well thought-out, I have to give Westerfeld that. Everything he told us was sound and reasonable, and even though I'm pretty sure there hasn't been a Prince Aleksandar of Hohenberg, it was still a very cool idea to take a new spin with new characters on WWI. But I already said I totally loved the idea behind this.
Sooo, the novel was okay. It did give me a bit of entertainment and I enjoyed myself well enough, but it's not going to be a book I'll be looking fondly upon on my shelf some day and saying to myself, "Ah, that was a fantastic novel. I shall re-read it." A shame, really. But I'm looking forward to the sequel.