You know when you start a series and read the first book was good but wasn't great and then you read the second book and it completely blows you away--Behemoth is that book for me. I liked this one way better than the first book. It was fast paced with lots of action. There was always something going on or some threat to the characters that many times had me on the edge of the seat.
Both Alek and Deryn develop a lot over the course of this book. Deryn is getting more conflicted over her feelings towards Alek. She's keeping a big secret from him while he's revealed everything about himself to her. Also Alek only sees Deryn as a great friend while Deryn is hoping for more. Another thing that drew me to these two characters is how fearless they are. There were many instances where they've put their lives at risk and put themselves in a dangerous position but always manage to come out unscathed.
I'm liking the secondary characters as well, especially Count Volger and Dr. Barlow. They always have plans of their own whether it's for the interests of Britain or for Alek's well being. Dr. Barlow has her precious eggs that have at last hatched. It turns out be a loveable creature that is instantly attached to Alek. It's still not clear what their purpose is or what role they'll have in the future. One thing for sure is that Dr. Barlow knows more about them than is letting on and is keeping mum about it.
The book ended with a big revelation so I'm excited to find out what happens next. It also looks like the Leviathan is leaving Europe and heading east so I wonder what new kinds of machines and fabricated beasts we'll see in the next book.
Was this review helpful to you?
At the end of "Leviathan," the Clankers and the Darwinists did actually manage to work together in order to save all their lives. But... you know that couldn't possibly last. And things immediately get tense in "Behemoth," a steampunky adventure story filled with political intrigue and Middle-Eastern grandeur -- and Scott Westerfeld expands his story far beyond the main characters.
It doesn't take long for Alek to realize that he and his companions are about to be imprisoned by the British, once they're no longer useful. Fortunately, they're headed to the Ottoman Empire. But when the Leviathan lands in Istanbul (NOT Constantinople, Dr. Barlow reminds us!), it becomes obvious that all is not well. England's autocratic "borrowing" has angered the sultan, who is more inclined to favor the Germans... who also happen to be in the area.
In the meantime, Deryn is being sent off on a secret mission that may give the British a triumph over the Ottoman navy, even as Count Volger blackmails her with her little gender secret. And Alek has escaped to somewhere in Istanbul, where he falls in with a small band of rebels -- which could lead to a shocking shift in power.
The first book was all about escaping from the Germans/Austrians, but "Behemoth" focuses on a the political upheaval of war. Scott Westerfeld spends a LOT of time on diplomatic and political matters in this book, and the delicate balance of nations. But don't worry, politics doesn't make this book boring.
Instead, Westerfeld makes this story into a steampunk thriller, with smoothly-intertwined subplots and some tense action scenes (being chased through the Istanbul streets on a giant mechanical beetle!).Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Westerfeld does it again!Oct. 7 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
I stumbled upon this series after finding and devouring his Uglies series. Levathian was an awesome book, and I loved the concept of evolved animalesques versus the mechanical technologies of the world. Scott Westerfeld has a knack at bringing so many aspects of life now into question in his novels.
While Leviathan was great at introducing us to its alternative steam-punk culture, Behemoth helps develop the characters of Prince *ArchDuke* Alek and middy *MR. Sharp* Deryn. I especially enjoyed seeing Deryn growing up with new responsibilities, challenged loyalties, and blossoming love. It is also very amusing when another strong female character Lilit is added to create a convoluted yet innocent love triangle between the three main figures.
One thing I was a little disappointed in was the fact that this book was not based in the mind-blowing evolving world of the Darwinists. Reading about the complex eco-culture of the Leviathan gave me a huge thrill as to the possibilities of our own future. But I guess this is to be expected. Leviathan is devoted to the world of the Darwinists, it is only fair that Behemoth is immersed in Clanker-land, a place with its own technological wonders.
All I can say Behemoth has got me extremely excited for book three. And unfortunately Behemoth has JUST come out, so it's going to be a really long wait.
PS. did I mention this series is gorgeously illustrated? My Kindle does not do the graphics justice but even there the fantastical details are extremely alluring.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
TURKISH DELIGHTSOct. 8 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
For those that have read the first book, BEHEMOTH brings the whale-airship Leviathan to a wonderful location to serve as a backdrop for the plot:
Scott Westerfeld even went to Istanbul to get a feel for the city in preparation of this book. Having been to Istanbul myself, I felt he captured the essence of the city without making one feel like they're reading an over-detailed travelogue.
In a nutshell, the book deals again with Deryn/Dylan, Prince Alek and his retinue, Dr. Barlow and a few new faces, to include one that forms the third point of an interesting "Bermuda Triangle" of sorts. Not much new is revealed about Deryn/Dylan and Alek, the two main characters, but the two draw closer in their friendship as they work together against the Clanker threats that surround them . . . and one particularly annoying journalist--American, of course.
The non-human elements are just as fascinating this time around as they were in LEVIATHAN, although this time they focus more on the Clankers as they are, after all, in enemy territory. But just to be clear, there are SOME new Darwinist creations, just not many of them.
The plot moves at a nice pace--although I'm a slow reader I finished this book in about two days and the last 200 pages I read in one sitting.
Of course, an Alternative History book like this one wouldn't be what it is without a little homage to the real history, which is briefly but sufficiently detailed in the AFTERWORD. It's truly amazing how authors can find little historical details and transform them into new magnificent stories!
Finally there is the wonderful artwork of Keith Thompson. Once again his artwork never fails to capture what is occurring on the page next to it. Reading these books is like flipping through the HOLY BIBLE or THE DIVINE COMEDY and finding the brilliant black-and-white artwork of GUSTAVE DORE gracing the pages.
As for complaints, I only have a few nitpicky ones . . .
--The hardback cover art needs to match the hardback cover for the first book. --The binding could be of better quality--it's just glue. --The impact of some of the artwork is diminished by the fact that the crease between the pages gets in the way.
Despite that, this is still an easy 5-star title.
It was nice to be back on board.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Intrigue in Istanbul (not Constantinople)Oct. 5 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
If Leviathan was setting up World War One with mechs and genetically engineered creatures, Behemoth was expanding upon the political ramifications. The book primarily centers on the political machinations between the Darwinist English and the Clanker Germans vying for the favor of the kind-of-sort-of Clanker Ottoman Turks in Istanbul. In the middle of this is Alek, son of the nobles whose assassination lit off the whole mess, and Deryn/Dylan the crossdressing girl serving on the English airship Leviathan and crushing over Alek.
I'm pretty sure that this could fall into the category of middle book syndrome for some people, but it didn't happen for me. I felt that the ending was a good spot to take a break. I also really like how the story is shifting locations from one aspect of the "war to end all wars" to another. I'm already decently familiar with the Western Front and it's nice to the see the scene shifting into more interesting and unfamiliar territory. Alek gets himself involved with some of the politicking using the time honored, traditional method of displaced nobles everywhere: revolution and rebellion.
The pace of action is pretty quick and there are quite a few new people introduced. It has a quite a bit of backroom dealing going on and the action doesn't get in the way of character development. Instead each big conflict is used to highlight an internal conflict as well, from Alek's and Deryn's differing reactions to the loss of a parent to what role each of them see themselves filling in the war. I especially want to see how Alek's suspicion that he could help end war the plays out.
The plotting was pretty good and made sense to me. Alek's decision to start taking an active role in events happening around him made him into less of a lost little princeling whose actions are dictated by his father's last wishes or Wildcount Volger. It was a nice little bit of character growth. I liked him more for it. I would even go so far as to say that Alek is changing from a lost and frightened kid into someone who could be a leader. I hope his instinct for people doesn't fail him and his ability to trust at all is a nice contrast to Volger's constant state of suspicion.
Deryn/Dylan also improved for me this time around. Rather than being slightly annoying, she managed to start having conflicts between her crushing on Alek and her sworn duty to ship and country, thus becoming more interesting. Also, the introduction of Lilit gives a splendid foil to Deryn, as Lilit is every bit as capable as she but not trying to hide her gender. I rather like Lilit's parting shot to Deryn. I thought the reactions on both sides really funny.
After this installment I eagerly await the next one all the more.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
What Miss Kelley Is Reading: [...]Oct. 9 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Behemoth picks up where Leviathan left off: Alek, son of Archduke Ferdinand and potential secret heir to the throne, and Deryn, a girl masquerading as a boy in order to join the war effort, are aboard the airship/whale Leviathan, headed for Istanbul (Constantinople). Though one is a Clanker and the other a Darwinist, the two have struck up a friendship, and as Deryn reflects early in the book: "The Germans were still hunting Alek, trying to finish the job they'd started on his parents. Someone had to be on his side. . . ". Throughout the book, which is filled with action and adventure, their friendship grows. Deryn is called upon to save her ship more than once, and Alek is forced to pick a side in the political upheaval in Istanbul. The pair have adventures both alone and together, and I, for one, can't wait for the third book.
My one reservation about Leviathan was that it was very slow to start; Behemoth has no such problem. The action starts on page one, and though there are still incredible machines and impossible creatures, there is less exposition in this book than in the first. Fans of the first book will love this sequel, and I encourage those who might not have loved Leviathan to give Behemoth a shot.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Behemoth - whatchYAreading.netNov. 28 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
I was so excited to read Behemoth, that when I held the ARC in my hands at Comic Con, I seriously considered running off with it. Christine had, apparently, planned out an escape route for us. Alas, I didn't get to keep the ARC (legally or otherwise) but I was able to gaze lovingly at the artwork every time we passed the Simon and Schuster booth. I love everything about these books. From the accurate historic facts, to the steampunk machines, to the crazy genetic-smooshing science (genetic-smooshing being the technical term, of course). I love the artwork, the writing, the cover (though I liked the original cover better) and, most of all, I love the writing.
Leviathan and Behemoth are the only books that I've read recently where I enjoyed the switching of point of views. It was always done smoothly and at points where the switch felt right. Scott Westerfeld always does a good job of showing you what needs to be shown from both point of views without ever repeating himself or having there be weird overlap.
The Leviathan series is, at its simplest, a steampunk retelling of World War I. Sure, Scott has taken some liberties with historic fact but the core motivations, alliances, and manipulations are still there. And the war is being told through the eyes of two young teenagers from opposite sides of the war.
What I love most about this book, and its predecessor is how it is faithful to WWI while still creating its own unique, fictional plot. The reader still gets a sense that it is a useless war, fought only so politicians could show their supremecy over one another. I also enjoy that, while there is a slight bias against the Germans, we see people from all over Europe for and against the war.
My previous review of Leviathan covers all the things that I love about Alek and Deryn, so instead I'm going to talk about a few other things.
Firstly, cross dressing. Deryn is still posing as a boy in the British Air Force, still a midshipman on the airship Leviathan. And I love all the wonderful things done with this. The number of characters that refer to her, sarcastically, as Mr. Sharp is funny and surprising. I especially loved the last one. I love how Deryn is of two minds all the time as well. She wants to continue being disguised, and she wants to reveal she is a girl. This resulted in two of my most favourite scenes in this book. The being when Deryn, confidently and wonderfully, realizes that Alek could love her if he knew. She isn't shy or self-conscience about it. She just knows. And she makes an informed, intelligent decision based on that realization and I loved her so much for it. The second scene was later on and used one of my much loved, sarcastic, Mr. Sharp's. I'm not going to say what it was for fear of spoiling it, but let's just say that Mr. Westerfeld managed to do a thousand things with one little scene and I laughed out loud. It was just perfect.
The second thing I wanted to talk about, intrigue and politics.So many different levels of it. The global level of what's going on what country wants what in the war, the personal level of Alek and his heritage, and the weird science level of...what is that creature following Alek around everywhere? And why does he even have it? He's a Clanker not a Darwinist. So many things to think about.
Everything was just so perfectly balanced. The action, the intrigue, the character moments. I was never bored or wanting something else to happen. A perfect cast of characters mixed with the perfect balance of fact and fiction.
And, and, and, and!!!!!! Reading this book totally helped me with a crossword answer one time. I LEARNED things. You can too!