Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan is an awesome read! I loved every moment of this YA steampunk adventure. My only problem with it, is that the next book is not yet out.

What I loved most about this novel, is the world that Westerfeld has created. It is an alternative version of our own world, where history has progressed somewhat differently. In this world, countries are allied by their devotion to either machinery or genetic manipulation. The Clankers have a society based around the use of incredible steam-driven machines, from legged walkers to airships that roam the sky. The Darwinists, on the other hand, rely on a fantastic array of fabricated creatures, from hydrogen creating beasts for air travel to lupine tigeresques to pull their military carriages. The Leviathan of the book’s title, a whale airship, is Britain’s foremost military ship.

The novel’s plot follows the adventures of two teenagers — separate at first, but converging by the end of the book. After the assassination of his parents, Prince Aleksander is on the run from his own Austro-Hungarian people. With the aid of a few loyal men and the use of an old Stormwalker war machine, he heads for Switzerland. Meanwhile, Deryn Sharp, a British girl, has disguised herself as a boy in order to join the military air service. After a mishap on her first day, she finds herself aboard the Leviathan as it heads off on a secret mission to the Ottoman Empire.

The story is set on the brink of the First World War, albeit a very different war from the one we are familiar with. Westerfeld uses many actual events and people, such as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, as a springboard for his fantastical story. It’s an exciting tale with interesting characters and a fascinating setting. I found the book difficult to put down… and each time I did have to put it down, I would find myself anticipating my return to its pages.

My only disappointment, when finishing the book, was realising that it was an incomplete story and that book 2 was still a couple of months off publication. But I’ve learned to cope, as I eagerly await Behemoth, which is due out in October.

Leviathan is my first encounter with the writings of Scott Westerfeld. Yes, yes… I know… I must have been hiding under a rock or something. Of course, I’ve heard of his Uglies series, and I’ve always intended to get around to reading them… I just haven’t, yet. But now having read and enjoyed Leviathan, I’m even more motivated to read his earlier work.

Anyone else out there read Leviathan? Share your opinion of the book in the comments section below.

And tune in next time as I write about school readers.

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter!

Sam Downing Reviews: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

I picked up a copy of Leviathan when I was in the States last week; I started reading it on Sunday night and had polished it off by Wednesday morning, however, in that time I crossed the international date line so it actually took me even less time to finish than that. The reason I got through it so fast? It’s ace.

The only other book I’ve read by Scott Westerfeld is Uglies, and I liked Leviathan a lot more. It’s loaded with all kinds of rad things: steampunk! Huge mechanical warships and equally huge genetically engineered warships! World War I alternate history! Girls disguised as boys! Heirs to the throne on the run from malevolent political forces!

So. Much. Awesome.

But if you’re awesome-greedy and demand yet more awesome, here it is: Keith Thompson’s illustrations are gawjus. The endpapers of the book alone are worth the cover price – they make me go all Homer Simpson drooly.

The only bad thing about Leviathan is that it’s the first part of a trilogy. This means that a lot of the plot is left hanging for the second instalment, which is released in 2010… but I want to find out what happens nooooow. I’m nerdishly excited about this series and where it’s headed! Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go and stamp my feet for a bit in the hope that it’ll somehow make time go by faster.

This month’s guest reviewer, Sam Downing, is a twenty-something blogger, young-adult writer and hack journalist from Sydney. Follow him on Twitter and visit his blog here.

Boomerang congratulates: AUREALIS AWARD WINNERS 2009!

A big congratulations to the Aurealis Award-winners i nthe children’s categories for 2009!

Children’s Illustrated Work / Picture Book
Victor’s Challenge by Pamela Freeman and Kim Gamble

Prince Victor and Valerian want to get married. But Victor, in his own unusual way, must pass three seemingly impossible tests of bravery, endurance and cleverness. He must go back into the Dark Forest of Nevermore to battle a fiery man-eating dragon, retrieve an armband from the peak of a wizard’s glass mountain, and uncover a tail feather from the rarest bird in the world.

Children’s Novel
A Ghost In My Suitcase by Gabrielle Wang

Thirteen-year-old Isabelle has travelled alone to China to visit Por Por her grandmother, and to release her mother’s ashes. Here she meets Ting Ting, an orphan who has been taken in by Por Por, and learns that her grandmother is a ghost-catcher – a gift that she too has inherited…

Young Adult Novel
Leviathan Trilogy: Book One by Scott Westerfeld

It is the beginning of the 20th century, 80 years after Darwin established the foundations of modern biology. But in the world of Leviathan these discoveries changed history more dramatically than in our own. England and France have perfected the the techniques of species fabrication, resulting in a glorious age of Edwardian biotechnology. In this world, Prince Aleksandar is on the run from those who would deny him his inheritance.

Illustrated Book / Graphic Novel
Scarygirl by Nathan Jurevicius

Abandoned on a remote beach, Scarygirl doesn’t know who she is or where she’s come from. Blister, a kind and intelligent giant octopus, wants to keep her safe, but Scarygirl needs answers. Who is the strange man haunting her dreams? Will Bunniguru help her unlock the mysteries of her past? Can she trust the wily forest dwellers? Her journey takes her to the edge, and beyond…Welcome to the world of Scarygirl.