Book Review: Behemoth

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Behemoth Behemoth by
Series: Leviathan #2
Published by in 2010
Genres: ,
Pages: 481

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.
Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead.

My Review:

I love steampunk (I think I’ve read enough now that I can officially say that). Steampunk isn’t just fantasy, at least to me – it’s a way of learning history. Yeah, ok, some of the bits are changed, and there are fantastic beasts and amazing machines, but part of what makes a good steampunk is how very close the author gets to the “real thing,” at least in everything they haven’t specified they’re changing. Now I’ll admit, I enjoy history, at least the bits with interesting stories, but I’m really more of an ancient history buff. More recent than, say, King Arthur and I start to lose interest. Unless, that is, a really amazing author can make it interesting.

Westerfeld definitely makes my list of authors who can make me interested in time periods I didn’t much care about before. I always found World War I particularly boring, because I’m not much one for wars – especially as we were mostly taught about the politics involved and not much about the interesting stuff that makes for good stories! Add in some beasties and Clankers though, and I can’t put it down. I want to know more about this world where Deryn and Alek live. I want to know how the beasties work, and I want to help take care of them. I want to see the gorgeous Clankers I imagine in Istanbul. And I want Dr. Barlow’s dresses! (Not to mention a Perspicacious Loris of my own! They sound so cute!)

It’s so difficult to say anything else without spoiling either book. The second book was a logical extension of the first, wrapping up some loose ends and creating some others, but without feeling forced, or on the other hand, feeling like filler until the final installment. (Not that I want the next to be the last – I realized as I was typing that, that I was assuming this would only be a trilogy. Honestly, I hope it goes on for much longer, because I will be very sad when it’s over! I might beg if I had to!)

And now back to reading! I’m officially on Spring Break now, and I’m so excited to decimate my TBR pile!

Book Review: Leviathan

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Leviathan Leviathan by
Series: Leviathan #1
Published by , in 2009
Genres: ,
Pages: 440

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

My Review:

One of the things I love about Scott Westerfeld’s writing is the way he gets into the heads of his characters. He gets everything right down to the slang. Though some might argue that it makes it harder to understand his stories, I feel that in the end it makes the characters more lovable. I will admit it took me a while to get into the story, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. I carried the book with me everywhere and I’m pretty sure I made some people around me mad, because the slightest few minutes of nothing to do and I would pull out the book to read a few pages.

One thing I will say on the other side, the world was really complicated for a “real world” scenario. I personally was intrigued – I wanted to fly on Deryn’s Leviathan, and learn how to drive Alek’s Walker. But I think it would be really helpful to have a sort of guide book to the world. I want to know about all of the Darwinist’s beasts (I want a message lizard!) and I would like to read (or possibly even write) an encyclopaedia of all the beasts and machines involved. Then again, I’m fascinated by those kind of things, and some people may find that a bit off-putting.

I am so glad I decided to buy this instead of a book I’ve already read, and I am so excited to read the next one!

Book Review: Peeps

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Peeps Peeps by
Series: Peeps #1
Published by in 2005
Genres: , ,
Pages: 312

Parasite positives, or "peeps," are maniacal cannibals that cause illness. College freshman Cal was lucky: he contracted the sexually transmitted disease during a one-night stand, but it never developed into its full-blown form. Now he works for an underground bureau in Manhattan that tracks down peeps. Apart from the cravings for rare meat and enforced celibacy (turning lovers into monsters is "not an uplifting thing"), life is okay--until a hip, cute journalism student intensifies Cal's yearnings for companionship.


One of the things I like about Scott Westerfeld is his ability to take something very unusual and make it seem perfectly normal. In his Uglies trilogy, it was the uber-plastic surgery thing, in Peeps, it’s Vampires. To me, this novel was a breath of fresh air – the Vampires weren’t really creepy, scary inhuman creatures, and they weren’t idolized for their super abilities and possible humanity. They just were. They’re a part of the story, but they aren’t treated differently than any other character in a story would be. After the Twilight craze and all the subsequent “Vampires are soooo COOL!!! SQUEEEEEEE!!!” books, finally, this was something new.

That said, I do have a few complaints. Westerfeld structures the book in chapters, and every other chapter is a short explanation of a different parasite. The first few were interesting – they were relevant to the story and explained things like how the peeps got their “vampirism” and what it did to them. After that it just got old and a little disgusting. I have no desire to read about these little worms that live in your stomach and eat their way out of you (or the ones that live in your bed – especially as I finished reading this one just before bed the other night.)

I also felt the whole thing was a bit tired – while the take on vampires is new, the plot is plenty old, especially looking at spy, and more recently superhero genres. I’m not going to tell you why, because that would probably count as spoiling, but about halfway through I wanted to yell at Cal for being so stupid and not realizing what was going on, and before I was three-quarters through I was just like “really? I mean really? Have you never seen a James Bond movie?” (As he’s 19 and male I find this highly unlikely, but I suppose possible. Still, was he living under a rock?!) Of course if Cal knew all these things, then I suppose we wouldn’t have a story. But it’s still frustrating.

Overall, I would recommend this book to friends (especially the Twilight crazy ones), but it’s not one of those “YOU MUST READ THIS NOW!” books.

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