Review: Behemoth

June 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm (4 stars, review) (, , , , , , , )

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Pages: 485, hardcover

ISBN: 9781416971757

Publisher:

Date Released: October 5th, 2010 (first published September 25th, 2010)

Genre: YA / steampunk / historical

Source: library

Premise:

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan‘s peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what’s ahead.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: Book Depository / Amazon

To start off with: I hate the cover. It is such a disaster compared to the masterpiece that was the original Leviathan cover. What went wrong? If I were some random browsing the aisles of the YA section of my local bookstore, I would have shrunk back in disgust, and quickly averted my eyes, as if the horrific cover might somehow infect me. In fact, that’s exactly what happened when I did encounter this book. I had heard news of Behemoth‘s release, and I eagerly went forth to buy the book, which I had pictured would be similar in majesty and beauty as Leviathan had been. But no, I was met with this monstrosity. Once again, I ask, what went wrong? What were Simon Pulse thinking? I actively avoided buying this book for almost a year, until I managed to get my hands on it for $1 when a Borders was closing down. Even then, I was reluctant. Was I willing to pay $1 to have this accident of a cover sit next to my beloved copy of Leviathan? Finally, I caved in, but only because I had already borrowed it from the library and loved what was between those frightening covers.

And this is coming from a hardcore fan of the first book. I had waited impatiently for over a year to read Behemoth. I loved the first book so much. I reread it several times.  And you know what the worst thing is? That the cover for Behemoth would have been even more stunning than it was for Leviathan. Here, have a look. Aren’t you just seething with rage? It’s beautiful, isn’t it. I don’t understand what Simon Pulse were thinking. They had potentially lost a customer (me) and maybe many more with their hideous reboot covers. (and to be brutally honest, I don’t know who’s who on the reboot covers. Whoops. :-/ )

Now, cover rant aside, I loved this book. If I thought Leviathan was good, then this is just a work of art, meant to be savoured.

This book deals with a lot of emotional baggage, from Deryn’s experience with her father dying a few years earlier, to her developing crush on Alek. But, poor girl, she can’t reveal her feelings to him without revealing her true identity! And with that came a fresh and delightful dose of drama. Especially when a new girl enters the picture, causing jealousy to spark from poor Deryn. The results were completely unexpected and hilarious, and I couldn’t have been more pleased at the maybe-love-triangle.

And while Deryn is struggling to hide her true identity, so is Alek. He’s in a new world, filled with the enemy. At any moment, he could be found and killed. The similarities between the experiences of Alek and Deryn make this a great tool to understanding their characters and their motives. They mirrored each other in so many ways, and it was awesome reading about their characters.

The plot is just as exciting as it was in Leviathan, with explosions starting right off the bat (if you’re into that sort of thing). And after that, there’s non-stop action and suspense all throughout the book, making it literally impossible to put down. I sat with Behemoth in my hands for four hours, braving a grumbling tummy and neglected housework. It will leave you completely hooked and wanting more.

The writing is  amazing, but, it still uses the annoying over-used vocabulary like bum-rag and such. Thankfully, the descriptions make up for it. Everything was described so vividly that it was really easy to imagine what was happening, and what everything looked like. This is especially amazing in the completely new setting of Turkey, where everything feels surreal, exotic and wild. The city actually felt like a whole new character, just like how the Leviathan felt like a character in the first book. For that, I applaud Westerfeld. It’s hard to pull off a setting like that, and to make it feel like a living, breathing characters with its own flaws and characteristics.

And, lastly, I have to give an honorable mention to Keith Thompson, whose artworks also feature in this book. Once again, they have left me speechless with their precise beauty. They certainly add depth to an already fantastic book.

I’m eagerly awaiting Goliath, but, unless they go back to the original covers, I probably won’t buy it. The cover just looks bad. I’m very picky with my covers, as you can see. But August can’t come soon enough.

Cover Art: 0
Plot: 5
Characters: 5
Writing: 4
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 4/5 stars

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