Daydream Sanctuary Features

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Leviathan (Leviathan #1): Where World War I is More Advanced Than The Present

Leviathan (Leviathan #1)
By Scott Westerfeld, Keith Thompson (Illustrator)
Aleksander: I'm the Heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire... but there are enemies who don't want me to be. So I'm on the run!
Deryn: I really want to fly... so badly that I would dare to pretend to be a boy in order to belong to the Air Ship Crew! I don't really want to fight, but it's the only way I can fly!
Aleksander: Even if piloting is my only best skill, I'll do everything I can to save people... even if they would become enemies in the future!
Deryn: I met a strange yet nice boy during the war. He helped me, but I had sworn to the army. I have to surrender him to my superiors!
Aleksander: It was unfortunately a friendship doomed from the very beginning.

Alternate History. Early 19th Century. Europe.
Evolution. Machines. War. Charles Darwin. Royalty. Heir. Gold. Escape. Soldier. Eggs.
Action. Adventure. Sci-Fi. History. Fantasy. Drama.

2.5 Hearts ---> NEUTRAL
(4 Hears to the art~)

I don't find much YA historical fiction based on WWI; much more if they have a mix of sci-fi. What made me more determined to buy this as soon as possible, even if the hardbound version is pretty expensive, is The Art! The illustrations on the cover alone is already very irresistible.

Too bad, it looks like only the art is its greatest feature.

The story concept is honestly very creative and interesting. Even though it involves fictional creatures and machinery, they story events hadn't been that different from what really happened in our world. I find it impressive how something that's supposed to be futuristic can still feel realistically historical.

I also love the themes it explores; war and peace, nature versus technology, combat attacks and battle strategies, culture clash, politics, responsibility, bravery, and so on. It's good that it involves so many things but some descriptions and narrations seem too technical or deep for a YA novel. It would've been nice if they were described in simpler words, so that even non-biology and non-techno nerds could relate and understand.

Speaking of narration, I'm not that pleased with its storytelling. It's so... standard... in a sense that if the initial chapter is based on the first main character's perspective, the next chapter would be the other's, then the third one will be back to the first character's, and the cycle repeats itself. I'm not saying that order is relevant.... but knowing whose side you're going to hear about next in a default manner just seemed boring.

Another thing that made this boring to me is not only the default change of perspective per chapter, but also the the chronology of its storytelling.... It's VERY chronological. The events are told so chronologically in order that made it LESS surprising and mysterious than it could have been. There hadn't been much twists. Sometimes the events are even being repeated, or had to be retold by a character. The repetition bores me. Having no thrill in figuring out why something happened made it even more boring for me.

Concerning the characters, I think there had been nice character development, especially on the main ones. Though none of the characters introduced have been that bad or despicable, I find it difficult to like any of them. Well, except for the prince perhaps, but my bias towards kindhearted princely characters had something to do with it. Though to be honest, the boy really has admirable qualities (ex: he's not a spoiled brat who complains on acting like a commoner, he didn't go seagerratedly angsty when he heard about the tragic news, etc.) but sometimes he could be pretty annoying (ex: he can be unbelievably stupid for easily giving himself away, at times he's a freakin' martyr, etc.)

I think the characters who didn't have the chance to show up at all would've been more interesting. Particularly the prince's father, since he had been a clever man and he had a very romantic love story. It saddens me that we don't get to know how things are like on the antagonist's side either because we're only limited to what's going on to our protagonists. There's a chance that they'll turn out to be more interesting than our current cast. Haha, yeah, sometimes the baddies are more fun~

But even if the second book would make some improvements, I don't think I would bother to read it as soon as possible anymore. Actually, this is a good book, and has been impressive in many ways. However, it fails to make me thrilled in findings out what happens next, and the lack of appealing characters doesn't help. The only thing in this book that made me very satisfied (though I wouldn't mind to see more ;P) are those GORGEOUS illustrations:

Though this book hadn't been a favorite of mine, it's still something I believe should be recommended to those interested in unique historical sci-fi stories and... breathetaking illustrations!