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.ย  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 isย  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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Review: Magic Under Glass

June 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm (5 stars, review) (, , , , , , )

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Pages: 225, paperback

ISBN:9781408802120

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Date Released: February 1st, 2010

Genre: YA / fantasy / light steampunk / romance / faeries

Source: bought

Premise:

Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act – singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry’s world, however, buried secrets stir.

Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry’s involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton’s stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: Book Depository / Amazon

I had been so excited to read this book, and it wasn’t what I had expected. In a good way.

The most important aspect about this book is the magical elements and the world building. It was done in such a way that, not only does it feel believable, it feels natural. From the Victorian-esque universe to the prejudice that Nimira has to face for her skin colour and background, and the slight hints of steampunk, it created this nice blend.

I really liked Erris and the way that he interacts with Nim when they’re first getting to know each other. Though the book is short–too short for my liking; I wish it had gone on for several hundred more pages–their relationship grows into something sweet. That said, I didn’t feel too much character growth on Nim’s part, which I feel was partly due to the shortness of the novel. Nim started off as a well-rounded character: strong, independent, dealing with the pressure of coming from a well-off background to being looked down upon because of her ethnicity andย  occupation.

The political intrigue in this book was the bast part, I thought. It was all explained in such a way that didn’t make it seem dull, or like a history text-book, which I found most surprising. I haven’t come across too many YA books that deal with that sort of thing and come off natural like this book does.

Now for the magical aspect: the fey, the alchemy, how Erris works, it was so wonderful to read about, and I loved it. Everything was very well-thought out. This is a world that I would love to immerse myself in over and over again.

I can’t wait to read the sequel, Magic Under Stone. I have high expectations of it.
Also, the US paperback to this book came out on the 24th of May, and you can find info here.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 4
Characters: 4
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 5/5 stars

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In My Mailbox #7

May 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm (In My Mailbox, Meme) (, , , , , , )

Howdy y’all, it’s time for another awesome IMM.

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where bloggers showcase the books they received over the week.

All the books I got this week were from the library, as I’m running out of money to fund this terrible, yet awesome addiction.

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting; I recently read The Body Finder, and liked it enough to want to get my hands on the sequel. Lucky for me, the sequel was released about a month after the first book came out, so I didn’t have to wait long. One of the few perks of living in Australia! ๐Ÿ˜›
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook; I’d been hearing about this book a lot, and I’ve got an ebook of it, but since I have no time for reading my own books, I figured that if I borrowed it from the library, I’d be able to finally read it. My logic is confusing, I know. Here’s hoping it’s worth the read.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Genesis by Lara Morgan; I love books by Australian authors, mainly because they get so little recognition. Whenever I find a book by an Aussie Author,ย  I just have to snatch it up. I think in the future, I’ll do a feature for unknown Aussie authors that deserve some recognition. ๐Ÿ™‚
Find it on: Goodreads

Vesper by Jeff Sampson; This just looks like an awesome book. And it’s written by a guy, and the narrator appears to be a teenage girl, so I’m really interested if he’s made the voice feel real, and not like a reversed Ethan / Sam.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Pegasus and the Flame by Kate O’Hearn; I love reading about creatures that aren’t wildly popular, and pegasi seem to fit the bill. This looks like it’ll be a great read, so I can’t wait to get started with it.
Find it on:Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima; I recently read The Demon King by this author, and found it surprisingly good for a stereotypical fantasy. Sadly, my library doesn’t have the sequel to The Demon King, so I’ve had to make do with the first of her other trilogy. Hopefully, this is as good as The Demon King.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Sandman: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman; So, can you tell that I love this series yet? I’m fairly addicted to it, and I urge all of you to go out and read it and become addicted as well. Tomorrow, I’ll post up my review of the first volume, Preludes and Nocturnes, so be sure to catch it if this series seems interesting. Hopefully, it’ll give you the kick you need to read it. ๐Ÿ˜›
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

What did you guys get in your mailboxes this past week? Feel free to leave your links in the comments! ๐Ÿ™‚

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