I very much enjoyed reading Leviathan. The mixture of alternative history, evolutionary biology lesson, and World War I setting drew me in quickly. Westerfeld's pitting of Darwinists against Clankers; beasties against machines; abominations against Monkey Luddites, all seem relevant to today's debates between progressives and conservatives; fundamentalists and pragmatists; creationists and evolutionists; global warming deniers and environmentalists. In a sense, Clanker Pat Robertson has declared war on the Darwinist Richard Dawkins. The setting of a military conflict further dramatizes the heated rhetoric flung around in today's political environment.
I've encountered the girl/woman disguised as boy/man device many times before. Still, Westerfeld does a terrific job of developing Deryn's/Dylan's character. As the father of a 15 month old daughter, I'm always searching for strong female characters in literature. Westerfeld's Deryn offers such an example. And with two books remaining in the series, I'm optimistic that Deryn's strong, independent nature will not disappear as her life intersects increasingly with Alek's powerful sphere.
And did I mention the drawings? Keith Thompson's artwork is flawless, and helps greatly in telling the story of Leviathan. The illustration of the strafing hawks dismantling a clanker plane gave me chills. Beautifully done!
If you like alternate worlds where airships are ecosystems, lizards dictate messages vocally, sea life roams the skies, bat poop serves as
lethal weapons, spiders bark and gastrointestinal functions have great import, this book is for you. A tightly written, very entertaining story. Bring on Behemoth!