Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is a middle grade steampunk novel. It has some great ideas but the ideas just weren't enough for me. I was so excited to read this book and see what Westerfeld with do with this speculative alterate history genre. There are two opposing forces in the world. The Clankers and the Darwinists. These groups of people live in opposing ideologies so intense they verge on religions. The Clankers believe in things that clank or machinery and the Darwinists believe in the more environmental idea of genetically altering living things to serve their needs.

The story is told by two perspectives. Deryn, (aka Dylan) who is pretending to be a boy in order to be part of the military, and Alek, who is an actual boy whose parents have just been assassinated and is trying to escape the same fate. Both narratives move too slowly towards any kind of point. There is quite a bit of action leading towards nothing. The world begins to be explained too late in the story.

In the afterward of the novel Scott Westerfeld explains, "So Leviathan is as much about possible futures as alternate past. It looks ahead to when machines will look like living creatures, and living creatures can be fabricated like machines" (439). Although I am engaged by thinking about alternate histories, the over use of language to force the historical perspective annoys me. Steampunk is like science fiction for those who love historical fiction and I am not one of those people. Language, slang, and dialect is about perfect balance and Leviathan definitely does not achieve it.


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