Book Review: Behemoth

by Scott Westerfeld

Published by: Simon Pulse
Genre: Alternate History/Steampunk
Big Themes: World War I, Revolution, Air Travel, Genetically Engineered Species, Machines, Heroism, Secrets

My Review of Leviathan

*Some spoilers in the summary, but I kept spoilers out of the review!*

Despite feeling at home on the Leviathan and proving his loyalty to the crew, Alek is still being treated as an outsider because of the war.  Desperate to do something productive and to not become a war prisoner, he escapes to Istanbul where he is able to be useful to the revolution there.  Deryn is proving herself as an airman and given more responsibilities, but how will her affection for Alek and her desire to help him conflict with her Air Service duties?  And can she trust him with her secret?

What I Loved:

Once again, this series earns the Hughes Reviews Seal of Approval. Scott Westerfeld is a master of world-building, characterization, and the alternate history novel. Paired with the brilliant illustrations by Keith Thompson, you will be mesmerized by this book.  This series is unique and clever and I want everyone to read them!

Scott Westerfeld continues to build a layered and complex world.  More new creatures, including the perspicacious loris which was by far my favorite creature in the series.  More mechanical wonders are also added to the roster with gigantic mechanical elephants and Tesla cannons that shoot lightning into the sky.  The way Westerfeld’s creations blend so seamlessly with the actual history is what makes is world-building so thorough and clever.

I loved the increasing tension between Alek and Deryn in this book because Deryn is keeping her gender a secret from him, whilst Alek is telling her all his deepest secrets.  The addition of Lilit, the rebellious daughter of the Istanbul revolution, was loads of fun.  She was a strong and independent female character whose interactions revealed insight into both Alek and Deryn’s characters.

This book had one of my favorite settings of the entire series: Istanbul.  A place I knew very little about, but the descriptions of food and spices and shadow puppets and elephants made me want to travel there as soon as possible!

This book sailed along at a quick pace, as fast as the Leviathan with Clanker engines.  There were multiple fight and battle scenes, moments of tension between characters, daring escapes from under the enemy’s noses, and an entire barking revolution!  The more I look back on the series, the more I think this second book was my favorite.

BONUS!  Gorgeous Illustrations:
Stunning pieces of artwork by illustrator Keith Thompson.  Below are two of my favorite illustrations from this book, though you should really get a book in your hands to fully appreciate the artistic detail in these images.

Overall Rating:
Five big, brilliant stars.  Behemoth is possibly my favorite book in this series, and a wonderful sequel to Leviathan.  I can’t recommend this series highly enough for fans of fantasy, science-fiction, or historical fiction.  It is a must-read!

One comment on “Book Review: Behemoth

  1. fakesteph says:

    I am going to make a real effort to get to these books soon!

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