Sunday, 6 October 2013

Steampunk Mini-Review: the Leviathan Trilogy

Late last year I heard about a genre called "steampunk" that blends Victorian ideals and inventions with steam power, and can include alternate history and automatons and all that cool stuff. I became interested in reading steampunk novels and since then have read and enjoyed several... the latest series I read was The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld... in fact I just finished reading it tonight. I was completely drawn in by the storyline and obsessively read the series until I'd finished it. As with any book, though, there are pros and cons, so I thought I'd type up a few pieces of information that came to mind... so, a mini-review. ;)

Oh yeah, and here's a photo, since all reviews seem to have photos of the books in them... ;)

Teaser: This series is an alternate history of World War I in which the two opposing sides are "Darwinists" and "Clankers". The two main characters are Deryn Sharp, posing as a boy officer on the airship Leviathan (because she loves flying and wants to be a soldier, but can only be a soldier if she masquerades as a boy), and Prince Alek, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary who is fleeing from the Germans (because they want to kill him), who meet in the first book and become close friends. THe storyline focuses on their friendship and the events of the war. And yes, the books get slightly romantic. The three books are Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath. The books also have lovely illustrations by Keith Thompson who helps you to imagine the book's inventions a bit better. 

"Cons" of this series...

1. The book is not a Christian book, and includes ideas contrary to the Bible. Evolution, Charles Darwin, and "fabricated" creatures make up a large part of this book's premise. The "Darwinists" represent the Allies in this re-written history. I am not an evolutionist and am an ardent creationist, so it was strange for me to read this book and it's hard for me to endorse it because of this content. If it were not for the fact that this is a fairly clean steampunk novel that is extremely well-written, I might not have finished the series because of the evolutionist content. {However, I do enjoy the challenge of reading a secular book and trying to figure out what messages the author is trying to convey (the only problem is, if you end up loving the book, you can't recommend it without reservations... *sigh*)}. As with anything, read with discretion. {And it's interesting Mr Westerfeld named his first two books after Biblical creatures - the leviathan and the behemoth, which some Christians, including myself, believe to have been dinosaurs...}

2. There is a bit of swearing in the book, but the swear words are Darwinist / Clanker phrases, like, "Barking spiders!" and "bum-rag". I kind of liked the fact that the "swear" words weren't extremely offensive...

3. The book does have a lot of violence in it. I wouldn't call it gory, but if you are sensitive to violence, I wouldn't recommend it.

Why I enjoyed the series...

1. The writing is amazing. Mr Westerfeld is very talented. I read the books out of order - I read #2, then #3, then #1! - but was still drawn into the series. I always say, I know a book series is well-written when I become a social wreck until the said series is finished (and am sad for several days afterwards). I have to say my favorite book is probably #3, Goliath, because of the intensity of the writing and the complications of the characters. 

2. The character development is sooo good. I found myself really caring about the characters and feeling their emotions. 

3. The storyline, inventions, "fabrications", and machines in this book are very creative too. I hope to possibly write a steampunk book one day, so I like to read other steampunk books to get ideas! 

So all in all, Westerfeld is very creative and a great writer; I just wish his books didn't venerate evolution so much! :P Again, these are just my quick thoughts on the series. If you like steampunk, you would probably really enjoy this series. I thought I'd type this mini-review up just in case someone out there is considering reading the books and wants to hear some thoughts on it. But I would encourage you to, as with anything, read with discretion and also to read a few reviews (watch out for spoilers!) and get some other opinions before you begin to read. 


P.S. and sorry for the lack of posts recently, I've been busy doing school and reading. LOL... 

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