However, never have I seen the genre done quite as well, or as imaginatively as Scott Westerfeld does in his Leviathan trilogy.
In Behemoth, the second of the series, we travel away from Britain and Austria, where the first book is set, and find ourselves in early twentieth century Turkey, Constantinople to be precise. Here the plot really takes off. While Leviathan set the scene for our two protagonists and gave them the push that threw them together, Behemoth drops them into a revolution.
What I love about this series is that there are two main characters – Deryn, a girl masquerading as a boy so as to maintain her midshipman status aboard an airship, and Alek, secret heir to the throne of Austria in hiding from those who want to kill him. Both have equal shares of the story, and both have secrets withheld from the other. Hearing each of their voices keeps the story fresh, and also means it is a book both boys and girls can love.
The other thing that makes this series truly unique is the technologies. In this parallel history, the world is divided into two different technology groups – the Clankers; people who use mechanized vehicles in true Steampunk style; and the Darwinists; people who use fabricated beasts as airships and weapons. This is really fun, because it allows you to decide which side you are on. Would you rather sail the skies in an airship that is a living whale, or thunder across the earth in a mechanical robot?
I love the plot progression in Behemoth, it’s exciting and unpredictable, and doesn’t feel forced. The characters develop hugely in this book, and you can’t help but love the way they interact with each other. I find that Scott Westerfeld’s writing style is greatly improved from that of the Uglies series, and while not hugely unique in terms of style he holds onto your attention as few author’s can.
Cool technology, interesting characters, witty humour, and some interesting history, these books have everything. Coupled with the amazing artwork by Keith Thompson, Behemoth and the rest of the Leviathan series are a must read for anyone looking for a truly good adventure.
So tell me, do you oil your war machines, or do you feed them?