Monday, February 27, 2017
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
Once again we delve into the steampunked rendition of WWI in Behemoth, the sequel to Westerfeld's Leviathan. After being really impressed with the first book, I went into this book looking forward to what would come next in the story. Will this sequel be on par with the last book, or did hype spoil it for me again? Let's take a look.
Alek and Deryn are together at last aboard the airship Leviathan and working together to stop the treacherous German forces and put an end to the war. The team travels to the Ottoman Empire to appeal to the sultan for his support, despite the Ottomans being strict Clankers much like their German foes. Alek and Deryn soon become entangled in a revolution plot that could turn the tide of the war, all while dealing with their own personal problems of Alek decided what he's to do with his home of Austria-Hungary and Deryn continuing to hide the fact that she's a girl.
The biggest advantage that this book has over it's predecessor is that the two protagonists are together and the point of view shifts between them connect much better than before. Instead of going back and forth between Austria-Hungary and the airship, the story is able to flow more smoothly between the two characters. We also get to see how the two of them work together and, despite being two vastly different people with different lives and motives, they make a really good team. A bond of trust is formed between them, despite the fact that Alek is still oblivious to the fact that Deryn is a girl.
Much like last time, the history is reimagined while trying to keep the most of it intact. Most history buffs will know that things are a bit askew in this story, but it keeps the story interesting and having our protagonists involved in such a huge plot give the story a spy-like edge that the previous book didn't really have. The action remains fast-paced and, while it's still a war and still very dangerous, it never gets too dire, keeping the story fun and exciting.
Once again, the steampunk style of this story is just amazing but thank goodness this thing comes with pictures! The style of these machines and organisms used to create weapons and devices is deeply intricate and even more advanced than ever and made to be just as interesting. Seeing just how these machines can be both ancient and futuristic requires a delicate balance so that the technology doesn't seem too out of place. WWI still feels like WWI, even with these vast creations. Istanbul feels like Istanbul, even if there are huge mechanical walking machines and complicated coffee houses. Making advanced tech seem rustic and natural is the brilliance of steampunk and it blends perfectly with the environment of the story, while taking care not to overshadow the characters and the politics that go into this story.
Behemoth is definitely one of the most successful sequels I've read. It's a fast-paced and interesting addition to the story of the first book, continuing the story and enriching the plot. While I wouldn't say that this one is better than the first book, it is definitely on par with it and definitely worth your money at our local bookstore.
Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts.
Next Time: The following story has absolutely nothing in common with a certain 1986 Jim Henson film staring a well known rock star as the antagonist. Absolutely Nothing!!!