It seems like more and more “Young Adult” novels come out that are crafted, whether deliberately or not, to appeal to many not-so-young adults, too. When my family came across Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan in the bookstore last year, I had high hopes it would fit that category, as it was a steampunk alternate history of World War I — hardly a commonplace topic for Young Adult books.
I was not disappointed. My family read Leviathan together, a chapter or two every night, and my wife and I were just as engrossed in the story and invested in the main characters of Deryn and Alek as my kids were. I suspect I may even have enjoyed it more than my kids did, as I’m a bit of a history buff and thus could connect the story’s version of events to the real history better than they could, seeing as how they were 9 and 7 and thus hadn’t learned a lot about WWI yet. I was very pleased that Westerfeld had included an afterword explaining the changes he’d made to real history (apart from the obvious facts that the Allies didn’t have genetically-engineered dirigibles and the Central Powers had machines with wheels, not legs), because of course I didn’t want my kids to harbor notions that the story they’d heard/read was true.
After devouring Leviathan, we moved on to the second novel in the trilogy, Behemoth, which was just as good as the first book, though we knew it would be a bit difficult to wait for the third book to come out this fall. So you can imagine how excited my family was to get a review copy of Goliath.
Goliath picks up where Behemoth left off, and follows Deryn and Alek — and the various supporting characters, of course — from Istanbul to Siberia to North America. Along the way they run into (and this really isn’t spoilery without context) the likes of William Randolph Hearst, Pancho Villa and, most significantly, Nikola Tesla. The complex Twelfth Night-esque relationship between Deryn and Alek progresses as it had to for the book to be a legitimate conclusion to the story, but (again, without giving too much away) Westerfeld handles it masterfully and far more realistically than I’d expected. Along the way there are some terrific action sequences, some very funny situations, and some very tense moments. The illustrations are, as with the first two books, just brilliant — containing details not described in the text and truly enhancing the story instead of just displaying it. Really, it’s one of the more entertaining books I’ve read so far this year.
If you’ve read the first two books, I’m sure you don’t need convincing to pick this one up. If you haven’t, there’s no time like the present. Both Leviathan and Behemoth are available as paperbacks, e-books, and audiobooks, and if you enjoy a good adventure, a bit of steampunk, and a good alternate history, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t read them.
GeekDad was provided with a free e-book of Goliath for review purposes.