by Scott Westerfeld
Book Two in the Leviathan trilogy.
Book One was reviewed here.
Now a prisoner of war aboard the Leviathan, Prince Alek struggles to hide his identity from his captors. Deryn Sharp is one of the few British officers who know that Alek is heir to a throne, but she has her own secrets to keep hidden – like the fact that she's a girl masquerading as a boy. After the Leviathan is attacked and damaged by the Germans, Alek manages to escape and hide in Istanbul, an officially neutral territory. Deryn, under orders from her own government, is sent to the same city in order to sabotage installations by the Turkish military. By the time the two teens are reunited and teamed up once again, a revolution is brewing in Istanbul with the two of them leading the way!
Behemoth may be the middle book in a trilogy, but it manages to avoid that frustrating suspended action that plagues many of these “placeholder” volumes. There's plenty of action here, moving the story forward. I'm not terribly familiar with WWI history, so I thought that setting the action in Istanbul was great. From here, we see how the war looks from the outside (since theoretically the Ottoman Empire is neutral) as well as the battle tactics of diplomats and generals as well as the guerrilla warfare of the revolutionaries. It's really exciting and dynamic.
There are a lot of strong female characters. Deryn constantly throws herself into the action, and though she follows her orders to the letter she tries to be as fair as she can in the process. Her little crush on Alek grows into something stronger, which makes her life all the more awkward since, as far as he's concerned, Deryn's just one of the guys. Dr. Barlow, a scientist largely responsible for many of the fabricated creatures that serve the British as warships and messengers, proves to be more than a clever scientist; as a diplomat, she's quite brilliant, even though her overtures to the sultan ultimately prove fruitless. Finally, there's Lilit, an energetic daughter of a revolutionary leader who helps both Deryn and Alek complete their missions while ensuring that her own goal – overthrowing the sultan – is achieved.
For fans of steampunk and alternate history, this is not a series to be missed.
4 out of 5 stars
To read more about Behemoth, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: 15 Great Works of Literature-Inspired Nail Art
2011: Closing down for end of the year Festivus...
2010: Seriously cool pop-up book!
2009: News: Edgar Allan Poe Postage Stamp & Discussion Question