Because of a few books I suffered through in high school, I didn’t used to think I could enjoy historical fiction. Neither did I realize, apparently, that I liked steampunk — partly because I wasn’t even 100% sure what the label even meant when I first saw it used on librarian listservs. But, considering what a huge nerd I am for Firefly and how much I loved Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn series, it is apparent that I liked steampunk even before I realized it was classified as such! Luckily, I have some awesome teen readers who clue me in on the books they love and think I should be reading, too, because they’re why I finally got around to reading Leviathan. Thank goodness I listened, because this book was awesome! It’s just too bad that I somehow managed to forget to post a review about this book back when I read it [about 2 years ago]… Luckily, I have the ability to fix that oversight right now.
In this alternate history of World War I, the German forces [called Clankers] used steam-powered war machines like tanks and the Allied forces [called Darwinists] utilized living creatures as war machines. The Leviathan, for example, was an airship made from a living whale-like creature. Though it looked much like a Zeppelin, it was MUCH cooler because it depended on a complex ecosystem in which the waste-products of smaller organisms [living inside] to provide the helium-like substance that made it float. Add that to the fact that people were walking around inside the beast/ship, and it’s not hard to understand why a science geek like me was just as enthralled by the Darwinists’ creations as I was with the whole rest of the story! If you like action and adventure, and you’re not opposed to possibly learning something about world history, this is a book you should probably read. (Just be sure to check out the author’s note in which Westerfeld explains which events/facts were true to history and which he created for the sake of his story.)