Review Blog

Feb 21 2012

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

cover image

Leviathan trilogy. Viking, 2011. ISBN 978 0 6 70305 4.
(Ages 11+) Adventure. Alek and Deryn are high over the wastes of Siberia in the Darwinist airship, a beastie, when they are told to collect a backpack from a bear, a huge house sized animal on the ground, waiting for them to take his load. But when the two midshipmen, Deryn and Newkirk descend, they realise that the load is far heavier than anyone thought and that the airship is tossing off ballast, some falling perilously close to these two hanging in mid air. They survive, taking the load into the cargo hatch, and are there when it is opened and sorted. The dimensions initially given as to its weight are far exceeded by the parcel, and they find machine pieces inside the beef and bacon.
So begins a heart stopping incredibly paced story of the scientist in the middle of the snow, Nikola Tesla, who they have been sent to rescue. Alek and the others are suspicious from the start, but more is to happen along the way.
The third and final volume in this thrilling trilogy of a steampunk variation of the beginnings of World War One, the escapades of the young prince, the imagined son of the doomed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, and his companions, one of whom is a girl in disguise, will have the readers sitting up all night to find out what happens next. The illustrations serve the text well, putting into line drawings what is being read, in intricate and minute detail. Readers will love to search the drawings for the beasties described in the text and be thrilled over again.
The whole is a great read as both Alek and Deryn have adventures crowded on top of each other, and along the way have some serious arguments about what it is to be male, as well as debates about the two opposing points of view, the Clankers versus the Darwinists. Amongst the plethora of bleak  adventure novels, this stands out with its wit and philosophy, a story that will thrill those who read it giving them something to chew on when it is finished.
Fran Knight

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