Friday, December 30, 2011

A Different Spin on World War I


I finished Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld a few days ago, but I haven't had  much time to actually get on and write about it, with Christmas and all. But here we are! Behemoth is the sequel to Leviathan, and even though I was a bit worried about reading it so far apart from Leviathan, I found that I didn't have much trouble catching up on what happened in the first. While there wasn't exactly that much summary in the beginning, the events are loosely based on the events of WWI, and I think that helped. But the weapons used in these books are completely different.

In this World War, the battle is between the Clankers and the Darwinists. The Clankers use all sorts of machines to do their fighting and such, and the Darwinists use fabricated beasts to do the same. In Leviathan, Prince Alek's parents have just been assassinated (the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, sound familiar?) and he is in hiding from the people responsible. In come the Darwinists, on their ship the Leviathan. When they crash, it's up to Prince Alek and his allies to save them. The events continue in Behemoth, where we can definitely see the war escalating. This time, the Leviathan (the Darwinist ship) is on a mission to make sure the town Constanipole (I think I spelled that correctly...) doesn't fall to the Clanker side. But once they arrive there, they find out that they may be too late...

One interesting aspect of this story is that it's told in two points of view, Prince Alek and Deryn Sharp. Deryn is a midshipman on the Leviathan, with a major secret. She's actually a girl disguised as a boy, and she's constantly hoping that no one finds out, because it would mean death. Even though Westerfeld doesn't indicate in the chapter titles who's speaking, you can always tell when it's Deryn because everyone else calls her Dylan, but when she's speaking, she's referred to as Deryn in the text. This makes it easy to tell the two apart, which I appreciate. And getting the two different points of view, especially since the two are from two different sides of the war, really gives the reader a great perspective of what's going on in the war.

What I really like about these books are all the crazy things that Westerfeld comes up with. He's designed all these different creatures and machines that are absolutely amazing. And not only does he describe these creations, there are also drawings to accompany them, done by Keith Thompson. And these drawings are breathtakingly detailed. Since all these things that Westerfeld is describing are completely fabricated, it helps to see pictures of them. I really think that they add to the text. Without them, I very well would have been lost in all the details of the machines and creatures and forgotten to actually pay attention to the story. Which would be a disappointment, because it also is a great story.

That's all I have to say about that. The next book I'll be reading is Inheritance by Christopher Paolini. And since it's 860 pages, it may take me a little bit to read this one...

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