Last year I posted this fantastical map of WWI Europe from Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. This week I read the book, which I found to be an excellent escape. It was supposed to be nightstand reading, but I couldn’t put it down.
Rather than a graphic novel in the Dark Knight and Watchmen style, this is an illustrated novel. The hardcover is thick, but is a quick read with black and white illustrations every 5 or 10 pages. I think the audiobook would be really entertaining, but the illustrations make the printed version worthwhile. If you have an imaginative 15 year old in the house, this book is highly recommended. I am sure many in the CA community — steeped in history, science and technology — would also get a kick out of this book.
The only criticisms I have — aside from the negative characterisation of Churchill — are technical: character development is rather unsubtle, and mixed metaphors run rampant as a school of fish. That said, this book is not supposed to be Chaucer. It is meant for young readers and is thus fast-paced with lots of action. It is a fantastical adventure that is also character building. Westerfeld’s strength is in descriptive detail. He has filled his alternate reality with historical hooks and clever technological innovations. As stated in the Epilogue: “That’s the nature of steampunk, blending future and past.”
The world of Leviathan is highly imaginative and engaging. I can’t wait for the second installment.
Below is a trailer featuring many of the illustrations in the book. See more at Scott Westerfeld’s blog.