So how to explain Leviathan? It is set during 1914 in an alternate world in which Charles Darwin discovered biotechnology. So the British Empire was built on the backs of strange, fabricated beasties while the Germans and the Austro-Hungarian Empire bulked at such blasphemy and relied on machines instead, earning them the title of Clankers.
Reading it on the heels of Howl’s Moving Castle, I couldn’t help but imagine the book coming to life in the hands of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. The was an element of mecha anime – the “clanker” machines used by that walk around like AT Imperial Walkers (think of Howl’s Castle). Then imagining the blend of machine and animal employed by the British; what the creators of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke could do with that!
It is the first in a series of three books (published October 2009, 2010, and 2011) and one full-color guidebook, The Manual of Aeronautics. It includes illustrations by Keith Thompson “because back in 1914, almost all books were illustrated, and I wanted it to look and feel like a book from that period. Plus, there are so many weird animals and machines in the world of Leviathan that I wanted to show them” (Scott Westerfeld).
According to the Akron-Summit County Public Library, “Steampunk is a genre with a huge underground following… but it has yet to become mainstream. Scott Westerfeld may help to change that. His newest title, Leviathan, takes history, fantasy, adventure, animals, Star Wars and the women’s movement, tosses them in a pot, swirls them around, and creates an absolutely delicious feast of a story.”
Read the great review at A Chair, A Teacozy and a Fireplace that made me pick this one up.