Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld created a rich and lush steampunk alternate WWI history in Leviathan, which was one of my favorite reads of last year. The sequel, Behemoth, did not disappoint in the slightest.

I cannot express enough how complete the world-building is in this series. Westerfeld clearly knows just how history played out and just how he wanted to diverge for the sake of story.

Besides that, he is a master at putting his characters in just the right place to move the story forward, something that speaks to his experience as an author. I’ve never read any of Westerfeld’s other books, but I really look forward to the experience.

The story ranges between two main characters, Alek, who may well be the heir to the Austrian throne, and a girl named Deryn, who is disguised as the boy “Dylan” in order to serve in the British Air Service. Alek is a “Clanker” while Deryn is a “Darwinist,” in a world-wide fission between machinery and fabricated animals.

Circumstances have thrown the two together constantly, and they’ve come to trust each other with all of each others’ secrets—well, except for the fact that one of them is secretly a girl. Obviously that would only complicate things. The characters are dynamic and true-to-life, and it was a lot of fun to meet some new faces in the story, along with keeping tabs on the ones we already knew and liked. It’s fun to watch the bigger story unfold, too—the worldwide one.

Probably my favorite part of this particular book was Bovril, a fabricated beastie known as a perspicacious loris, which was quite the charmer over all. I wasn’t really a big fan of one newspapery character in the book, but I had a feeling he was fun to write… and that we might see more of him. I’m really excited because the next book is headed to Japan, and I’m insanely curious what all is going to go on there.

And then the question can’t help but tug at me… is there going to be a WWII series as well?

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