Author: Scott Westerfeld
Illustrator: Keith Thompson
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Date Read: January 5-12, 2013
“Secrets revealed. Plots unraveled. A roaring conclusion.
Alek and Deryn are aboard the Leviathan when the ship is ordered to pick up an unusual passenger. This brilliant/maniacal inventor claims to have a weapon called Goliath that can end the war. But whose side is he really on?
While on their top secret mission, Alek finally discovers Deryn’s deeply kept secret. Two actually. Not only is Deryn a girl disguised as a guy…she has feelings for Alek.
The crown, true love with a commoner, and the destruction of a great city all hang on Alek’s next- and final- move.”
New Characters: Nikola Tesla- Nikola Tesla is a mad scientist. He is described as a very eccentric man and a great inventor, but he is simply a mad scientist—there is no way around it. His invention could be the answer to their prayers, or their worst nightmare—and it all hinges on this seemingly unstable man. He causes Alek and Deryn to question their actions, and puts them (especially Alek) in some pretty difficult situations. Alek is particularly affected by the man, and Tesla makes him question exactly where his loyalty lies and what his future will look like. The relationship between Tesla and Dr. Barlow (the lady boffin) is a little strained, and the tension results in some secrets and a lot of sneaking around.
There are also a lot of minor characters introduced in this book that are related to the media industry in some way. There is mention of several reporters, as well as William Randolph Hearst and the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. However, there are far too many to go into depth with, and they are not terribly important- just interesting!
Conflict: On the macro level, the conflict obviously continues to center around WWI. Nikola Tesla’s invention- Goliath- is the subject of controversy, and has many nations making hasty decisions. After seeing the devastation in Siberia, Alek allies himself with Tesla in an effort to ensure peace. However, Germany and other Clanker and Darwinist nations do not all see eye-to-eye with Mr. Tesla.
On a micro level, the conflict involves Alek and Deryn and their feelings for each other. After Deryn’s secret is finally revealed, she decides to tell Alek of her affections. This puts both Alek and Deryn in a rough spot because Deryn is of common blood, and therefore Alek cannot marry her and take the throne. Deryn and Alek struggle with their feelings throughout the book, and you really feel for them. Deryn learns to keep her feelings inside and to accept that she cannot be a commoner and be with Alek- but she still remains awfully upset about it. I admire Deryn for being able to keep her head up when her world seems to be crashing down around her.
Things I Liked: As I mentioned above, I really liked that Deryn was able to stay strong in the midst of the war and the other issues in the novel. She is a female character to look up to- she has a sense of duty and honor, but still manages to be feminine (at least in her head). Alek is also to be admired in this installment! He is just so noble. He may have been the Prince of Hohenburg all along, but he really exudes nobility in this book. He is willing to make many sacrifices both for his nation and for the people he loves. I feel like Alek and Deryn and even Volger and Dr. Barlow really came full circle in this book. They are all incredibly well developed characters that are easy to connect with and a pleasure to read about. And I LOVED the ebding!
Things I Didn’t Like: To be honest, the things I didn’t like in this book were just things that were unfortunate for the characters. I mean to say that Westerfeld did such a good job that I simply got mad when things didn’t go as planned for the characters! But, these “things” are just the story progressing. You can’t have a novel without a conflict! At least a good one, anyway. This was a terrific finish to the trilogy.
Overall: I really just loved this installment. I think it may have been my favorite. It’s hard to tell though, because I thoroughly enjoyed all of the books! This one left me with a sense of closure, and the ending was great. I just looooovvvveeeddd it! Have I mentioned that I loved it? LOVED IT. You will either have to take my word for it, or read for yourselves! (I hope you choose the latter, although it is flattering if you choose the former.) I really enjoyed the sort of ethical battles faced in this novel, since that is usually what war comes down to- what leaders/nations are willing to do/not to do to win. He did a really good job immersing us into the war without making everything about the battle. Don’t get me wrong, I love movies like Saving Private Ryan that center on the hardships of battle, but warfare is more than just combat. It was nice to see that Westerfeld focused on the motivations for actions and the intended/unintended consequences. It was sort of like a behind-the-scenes.
The series as a whole was fantastic. The only steampunk literature I have really read is Chris Stocking’s London Darkness: Infernal Inventions (you may recall that he is my husband!). I really liked the atmosphere in that book, and it made me want to read more in the steampunk genre. I picked this book up because Chris had read it and loved it, and I am so glad I did. I liked it so much, I bought him Behemoth for Christmas and then surprised him with Goliath a little while after that- talk about win-win situations! I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I was nervous about reading a novel that had so many pictures in it, but Keith Thompson’s drawings are just awesome and they really help you create the perfect image of the Darwinist/Clanker world in your head. His drawings are so detailed, I often took a couple minutes just to look at them! The series is definitely a must-read for anyone that is curious about steampunk, or loves seeing teenagers do something other than text and make out. Check it out!
Rating:s 5 stars!! I highly recommend the series.
Other Works by Scott Westerfeld: Leviathan and Behemoth, The Uglies series, Peeps, Midnight series, Risen Empire series, and So Yesterday.