Review: Goliath by Scott Westerfeld (Leviathan #3)

Title: Goliath

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, PeepsMidnight series, Risen Empire series, and So Yesterday.

Keith Thompson does more than just the Leviathan series, too!


Review: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (Leviathan #2)

Title: Behemoth

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Illustrator: Keith Thompson

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Date Read: December 29-30, 2012

“A stolen throne. A secret mission. An epic adventure.

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.”

New Characters: 

Eddie Malone- Malone is a reporter for The New York World. He was mentioned in the first book in the series, but he really takes on a more important role in this installment. He is a very inquisitive man that carries around a bullfrog beastie on his shoulder that records conversations. Alek finds himself mixed up with Mr. Malone, a relationship that seems necessary but is not very pleasant.

Zaven. Lilit, and Nana- Zaven is the son of Nana, and his daughter is Lilit. These three are an integral part of Alek’s survival in Istanbul. They are leaders in a movement that opposes the current sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and Alek and Deryn both develop a relationship with the trio. Lilit is very clever, much to Deryn’s chagrin, and also teaches Alek a few things about himself.

Conflict: On a macro level, the conflict is centered around the neutrality of the Ottoman Empire. Both Darwinist and Clanker powers are trying their best to win the Ottomans over to their side. It’s really interesting to look at the Ottoman Empire in relation to the Clankers and Darwinists because they are a mix of both. Although it seems that there is a little more German influence in Istanbul, you really get the sense that there is very rich culture in the city.

On a micro level, the conflict involves Alek’s new secret. Alek struggles with the urge to share this secret with Deryn, but he is very worried about any possible ramifications- this is a pretty intense secret! Deryn still has problems sharing her secret with Alek, and the tension really builds in this book because both characters know the other is hiding something from them. Lilit adds a little spice to the Alek/Deryn pot by focusing her attentions on Deryn- or should I say Dylan.

Things I Liked: I really liked that there seemed to be a few more illustrations sprinkled throughout the book. When the characters are in Istanbul, there are a lot of descriptions of things that I don’t think would be fully understood without Thompson’s awesome illustrations. I’m not saying that Westerfeld didn’t do a good job with his descriptions, it’s just that there was so much going on and so much to take in, so the illustrations help you pick out what is important and really helps you keep a cohesive vision of the story in your head (or at least mine). I also liked that Deryn listens to her emotions a little more in this novel. With so many new things happening in Leviathan, Deryn didn’t have a lot of time to figure out how she feels about things. However, her foray into Istanbul helps her catch up emotional- even if she doesn’t like it.

Things I Didn’t Like: There were no illustrations of behemoth! I know that the beastie itself doesn’t really come into direct contact with the main characters per se, but the book is called Behemoth, and I really wanted to see what all the  hype was about! I guess that’s what you get for relying so heavily on pictures (me, not the author).

And as many times as Deryn calls Alek “daft” in this book, it is totally true. I didn’t really like that Alek seemed to be especially oblivious to the feelings and thoughts of the people around him. In the first book, he seemed really in tune with his emotions and also picked up on the emotions of others. But in Behemoth, Alek spends most of his time in his own head. But with a secret like that, I guess I would, too.

Overall View: Overall, I though that this one was very exciting. The brief split of Alek and Deryn’s story lines really spiced things up. The exotic location really helped, too! I loved the rich culture that was Istanbul and how the city, as well as the Ottoman Empire, became part of the politics of the War. This one tugged at your heart strings a little, and I think it adds to the story as a whole. This book really makes you look forward to Goliath!

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Other Works by Scott Westerfeld: The Uglies series, PeepsMidnight series, Risen Empire series, and So Yesterday.

And remember- it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople!

You can look at more of Keith Thompson’s art at

Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Leviathan

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Illustrator: Keith Thompson

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Date Read: December 28-29, 2012

“Choose Your Weapon: Beastie or Clanker

Alek is a prince without a throne. On the run from his own people, he has only a fighting machine and a small band of men.
Deryn is a girl disguised as a guy in the British Air Service. She must fight for her cause- and protect her secret- at all costs.
Alek and Deryn are thrown together aboard the mighty airship Leviathan. Though fighting side by side, their worlds are far apart. British fabricated beasts versus German steam-powered war machines. They are enemies with everything to lose, yet somehow destined to be together.”

Some helpful terminology:

Boffin: A Boffin is a Darwinist scientist/fabricator

Beastie: Beasties are the fabricated beasts created by the Darwinists. They take the life threads from many different species. The Leviathan is a beastie.

Clanker: A Clanker is someone who does not believe in or follow the legacy put forth by Charles Darwin. They prefer steam-powered machines and mechaniks over beasties.

Characters:  Let me just start by saying that I was very fond of all of the main characters in this book. Alek is a teenage aristocrat with no knowledge of how to get along outside of his palace. He very determined, and his outlook on the world really evolves as the book progresses. Alek is a refreshing character because he is not so pessimistic in his outlook of the world, even though the novel takes place during wartime. However, Alek’s youthful optimism is often tempered by the realism of his fencing instructor Count Volger. Count Volger and Master Klopp are two of the people that accompany Alek on his journey away from Austria. While Volger is a realist with a particular knack for the political game, Master Klopp is a more kind-hearted master of mechanics whose knowledge proves very useful down the road.

Deryn is one of my favorite characters in the book. She is a really strong individual, and I love that she takes her future into her own hands by joining the Air Service despite her… problem. She is smart and isn’t afraid to show it, and she really shines as a midshipman. She is quite connected to the Darwinist beasties, and the clash between Clankers and Darwinists is interesting to watch through her’s and Alek’s eyes.

Around halfway through the book, we encounter a “lady boffin” whose presence really changes the direction of the book and gives the story line a new level of complexity. Dr. Barlow is an important boffin with an important mission that changes Deryn and Alek’s relationship.

Conflict: On a macro level, the main conflict in this book is World War I. Westerfeld’s WWI is much the same as the one we remember, but the Darwinists and Clankers add some political tension and also change the type of warfare. Leviathan focuses on the tension between the Darwinists and Clankers and about how views change aboard the Leviathan when the two powers are forced to work together. On a micro level, the conflict lies with Deryn’s secret. Her secret causes some problems for her through the course of the book, the biggest being the strain on her friendship with Alek.

Things I liked: Mostly, I just really liked the whole book. I liked that Westerfeld kept the events leading up to WWI relatively accurate, and that he managed to create a different environment in which the same situation could occur. He paid great attention to detail, and he did a great job foreshadowing. I liked that Alek and Deryn are both strong individuals, but that their strengths compliment each other. I really appreciate that Deryn is not automatically made to be the sensitive one because she is a girl, but that Alek seems to be the more sensitive type. Deryn is a really great character because her insecurities stem from her secret, not from whether or not she has the ability to make it as a midshipman.

I also really liked the explanations of the Darwin fabrications. The way he describes the Darwinists and Clankers makes it seem that this is just an alternate course that our reality could have taken. If different choices or different discoveries had been made, this world would be entirely plausible. This really helped me get into the story. I am a big fan of fantasy books, but it’s nice when you can draw some parallels to your own world. Westerfeld also has a great imagination when it comes to different types of fabrications and walkers!

Another thing- I loved the illustrations. Keith Thompson’s work is really great and the style really seems to compliment the style of the novel. They were often very helpful in envisioning some of the fabrications and walkers. I was a little nervous at first to see that there were illustrations, but the way they compliment the book really works.

Things I didn’t like: While I did like the different sort of language that Deryn used, I felt like she used the same phrases too often. We don’t hear from many Darwinists that use the same language, and sometimes this caused Deryn’s overusage (especially of “barking” or “barking spiders!”) stick out.

I would also have liked a little more of Deryn’s family background, but I guess you can’t fit everything into a book and keep the integrity of the original story.

Overall: I really liked this book. I haven’t had a lot of experience with steampunk, but this really kept my interest. He creates a plausible world and the characters are really well developed. This was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down. If I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about reading. I am also a fan of the way Alek and Deryn’s different stories start off separate and eventually merge- in other words, I really liked Westerfeld’s style.

Rating: 5 stars

Other works by Scott Westerfeld: The Uglies series, Peeps, Midnight series, Risen Empire series, and So Yesterday.