Archive for December, 2010

December 6, 2010

Leviathan

As someone whose been reading Westerfeld’s novels since she was young, it’s always nice to get a new installation from him. This novel though, I was a bit apprehensive about, and even up until the last few weeks before it’s release I was unexcited for it to on the shelves, and generally disappointed that he hadn’t done something less,well, ridiculous sounding. I quickly changed my mind upon reading the book, and I’m pretty sure it’s because Westerfeld wanted his fans to get to know a different part of him, and the outcome was entirely worth it.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is an ode to steampunk in every form. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the steampunk movement it’s a relatively underground subculture of science fiction in which victorian age technology is advanced significantly while still running on steam. In steampunk novels you can find flying boats, massive walking battle ships, and mecha’s that remind the nerd in us all of Gundam,only instead of having force fields that stop bullets, these robots are breakable, and tough to operate. However, Westerfeld’s version of steampunk is a fantasized one. He puts the steampunk machines side by side with fantasical created creatures, that are amalgamations of different sorts of creatures, aptly called fabricated beasts. Some of the animals that the people have created are beasts what have been feared through time, like the Kraken, and others are machine-like in origin, like the Leviathan, which is an airship made from hundreds of different beasts.

This book is one of ones that I’ve had the most fun reading this year. It’s a genuine good time, despite the occasional dark moments, and it holds the beginnings of a good love story. Set in 1914, the action begins immediately as you meet Alek, the last in line to the Austrian throne, but unable to claim it, and Deryn, a female who yearns to be an airship pilot, but lacks the gender to achieve her goal. From the start you can tell their cultures are more than just different.

Alek plays at war between the Austro-Hungarian empire and the French and British infantry, and talks of “diesel-powered walking machines”(1) and “Darwinist monsters” being their respective armies. While Deryn gets her brothers help in changing her appearance so she can pass as a boy, and take the airman’s test. she refers to the “Darwinist monsters” of Alek’s war by their proper names, and even knows how they were created. She does however refer to Alek’s machines as “Clankers” more often than not. In an act of God, or just Westerfeld’s pen strokes, the two meet, and their cultures are forced to clash in more than one way. I won’t give away the story, but know this, the Behemoth, the second book in this series, has been cracked, and there is so much more to come in this series, and Westerfeld hasn’t lost an iota of his touch.

December 6, 2010

The Bride’s Farewell

I’ve been a huge fan of Meg Rosoff since she released How I Live Now back in 2004, and although The Bride’s Farewell, isn’t as new as her new novel Vamoose, which I still haven’t gotten my hands on yet, it was the last of her novels to be released here in the States. I’ve read this novel around 6 times, and the last time I read it I wrote a critical paper for one of my classes on the main character, and how she switched gender roles, and was atypical for the time period in which the author was having the character live. Nonetheless, The Bride’s Farewell is an enchanting novel, and in a mere 214 pages you get brought into the characters life, and fall in love, not only with her but the world in which she lives.

At the start of the book, you get introduced to Pell Ridley, who has decided to run away on the morning of her wedding to escape the marriage she dreads. The story from then on is of how she survived leaving the house, as a woman, alone in the year of 1850 something. While there are brief interruptions of her formative life, each one gets its own chapter, and serves mainly as background information, as to how Pell got to that point. For those who have read Meg Rosoff’s other works, Pell Ridley is similar to How I Live Now‘s Daisy, in that she is strong, and opinionated, but entirely different otherwise. While Daisy gives into her love, Pell rejects it, and if you’re looking for a book that is filled with romance and adventure, only one of those things will be fulfilled with this book, and it’s certainly not romance. Pell lived an exciting, life, and the story does not end with her death, but rather a new sort of beginning for her character.

I sincerely hope I haven’t given too much of the book away, but it is one that I have thoroughly enjoyed time and time again, and for fans of Rosoff’s earlier work this book will be a great read, until her upcoming book There is No Dog, which is slated to be released in Spring 2011 in England, is made available to American publishers.

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December 3, 2010

Lets Get Started Shall We?

Here are a few books I’ll be reviewing after I read them. Some are new some are old, but all hopefully, are good. Anyway, I have finals next week so I probably won’t be reviewing them till a bit after that.

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