Sunday, November 7, 2010


Scott Westerfeld's Behemoth, the second installment in his steampunk trilogy, was just as much fun as Leviathan. Like the first volume, the highlights are the detailed drawings of the fascinating contraptions and beasties. The plot is engrossing, the locations exotic. As with the first volume, I appreciated that the book is a well-rounded story in its own right instead of simply being an episode in a series with a cliffhanger ending. Certainly, there is more story to tell, and I look forward to reading it, but this chapter of the story came together in the end in a satisfying manner.

That said, I have decided that characters aren't Westerfeld's strong point. Although the characters in this story are interesting and elicit an emotional reaction from the reader, the only one with much complexity is Deryn/Dylan, the British girl disguised as a midshipman. Periodically, Deryn's slang is so reminiscent of a cocky, young midshipman from a Hornblower novel that I'd forget she was a teenage girl. Her outer confidence and leadership is nicely contrasted with her inner turmoil and secrets. I wish Westerfeld was able to provide a bit more depth to Alek, the Austrian prince on the run. Perhaps he will succeed in doing so in volume three.

My only other criticism is that for some inexplicable reason, they commissioned someone other than Keith Thompson (who did the brilliant interior illustrations, especially the map of Europe in Leviathan) to create the cover art. The cover art for Leviathan was perfect--a mass of interlocking gears. Who approved this cheesy photo of an aviator on Behemoth's cover? Boo.

1 comment:

Karen and Sean said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I thought someone was trying to illustrate a child version of Amelia Earhart, rather than Deryn. I did enjoy this book, once the kids let go of it long enough for me to request it. I can't wait for the third book to see how it all ends. There's no way Alek and Deryn can "end up together" but I love the camraderie of Alek's entourage.