I thought, since I just finished Leviathan, I would go ahead and post a few words on the subject.
First of all, as fascinated as I am with steampunk, this is the first pure steampunk book I’ve read from start to finish. But that’s not why I finally started reading Leviathan.
I was listening to a podcast of Writing Excuses where writer Scott Westerfeld participated in a discussion on illustrations in novels. The topic wasn’t discussing covers, but the numerous pictures drawn inside. As Westerfeld said, Leviathan is geared to act much like a novel released in 1914 rather than 2009. The prose isn’t dated or too complex. Instead, the story is a light-minded tale about the (fictional) son of Archduke Ferdinand and Deryn Sharp, a girl so committed to flying, she’s enlisted in the British Air Service, pretending to be a boy.
Don’t be fooled. This story isn’t done. There’s a trilogy being set up here, but I will say I’m intrigued that I might want to read Behemoth, the sequel at some point. The characters are quite strong, even if many of them are actually real.
Alek and Deryn are an interesting pair. I could read about their trials for some time, if I wished to. But there’s only so much they can do with the small amount of space they have to share with the plot and with other drawings an illustrations. They neither enslave the plot nor do they obey it without recourse. The perfection can be dulled down because there could have been a romantic subplot; with so little time to spend on teen romance, there’s almost no chance for the idea to even come up.
I’d like to say A, since Leviathan was as good or better than a lot of books I have read in the past few months. Still, it wasn’t the best, but I have to give it recognition because it was far, far from the worst. For Leviathan, I grant the grade of B+, though it’s a grade that might change when I read the other two installments.