I will be moving to Wordpress.com on October 1! My new URL will be exploringbystarlight.wordpress.com.

Brief Hiatus...

Hey gang,

I'm really sorry about the lack of updates on the blog >.< I've had to kick my butt into gear since I had an important coursework deadline this week and that left me with little time to read and whenever I did have time to read, I was hit with a huge reading slump! I won't be around for the rest of the week and will hopefully be back to my regular posting next week (I will try to get a Book vs Film post done since I haven't done one in ages).

See you all then ^_^

Review: Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Goliath
Scott Westerfeld
Illustrated by Keith Thompson
Series: Leviathan #3
Genre: YA Steampunk
Publication date: September 20 2011
by Simon and Schuster
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★★+

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Alek and Deryn are aboard the Leviathan when the ship is ordered to pick up and unusual passenger: Tesla, a brilliant inventor who claims to have a weapon called Goliath that could end the war. But whose side is he really on?

Meanwhile, Alek has discovered Deryn's secret. Not only that she is a girl in disguise, but that she has feelings for him. Now the crown, true love with a commoner, and the destruction of a great city all hang on Alek's next - and final - move.
I've tried my very best to keep this review spoiler-free, but that just wasn't happening. Sorry!

Most of the time I’m able to go straight into the last book of a series without thinking much about how it’s the end. That wasn’t the case with Goliath. I had to mentally prepare myself to start this book because I didn’t want the series to end, but then again I couldn’t just not finish it and live the rest of my life asking myself tons and tons of questions and avoiding spoilers (I would’ve just ended up reading the book anyway but a lot further down the line). Once I had steeled myself and almost forgotten the book’s place in the series, I started reading and just devoured the entire thing. I don’t really like to use cliches that much, but this book was a serious roller coaster of feels. My poor feels are still recovering from that ride!

Goliath continues on not long after Behemoth left off, with Alek and Deryn back on the Leviathan after assisting in the Ottoman Revolution, which led to the Ottoman Empire becoming the Ottoman Republic. The airship is making its way across Siberia when its crew is given an order to pick up a passenger in the middle of the wilderness. This odd passenger is the inventor Nikola Tesla, who claims to have  invented a weapon named Goliath, which he thinks will bring an end to the war once and for all and is located in New York, the Leviathan’s last stop before returning to London. While the entire book is incredibly exciting and just plain awesome, what really got my heart pumping with the book’s story is the whole situation that’s going on with Alek and Deryn (who have been bestowed the honour of being my OTP). Alek finally discovers what Deryn really is, a girl in disguise, after seeing disjointed information about “Dylan” and putting the pieces together. To make matters even more complicated, Deryn has feelings for him. And I’m not talking about a little schoolgirl crush, Deryn is in love with Alek, meaning that my dream after reading Behemoth has come true and I can sleep somewhat peacefully at night from now on (I’ll explain the somewhat in a minute).  Every time there was a hint at Alek maybe returning Deryn’s feelings, my heart would just race and I would just refuse to stop reading. (Highlight to view spoiler)The outcome of my wishes and hopes weren’t answered until the penultimate page of the book but that doesn’t matter because it was worth the wait and I couldn’t have thought of a better way of ending the book. Since I have given Leviathan and Goliath the same rating (I gave Behemoth a regular 5 stars), I’ve been thinking about which of the books’ stories I like the most. Both books have incredibly awesometacular stories but my favourite out of the two is definitely Goliath’s since everything is ended just so well, with a superb mixture of awesome action and the odd occasional sweet moment between Alek and Deryn (the last one nearly turned me into a piece of candy, it was so sweet).

There was a lot of character development going on in Behemoth and it sort of still goes on in Goliath, but this time it goes in a sort of different direction. Alek is still becoming braver and knowledgeable as the book progresses, which I really loved because it shows how far he has come since chapter one of Leviathan. It really shows how much he values the friendship that he has with Deryn, since before he went aboard the ship he didn’t have a single friend in the world, just his parents and teachers. I still think that Alek has grown the most out of all the characters in the book because he was the one who was the most unlike anybody that I would encounter in real life: he’s the secret heir to the throne of an Empire at the age of fifteen, his parents have been assassinated in order to start a war, and he had no friends as a child. It’s very unlikely that I would ever encounter a person like Alek in my life. I think his growth was necessary, as it shows how he has to adjust to the ‘real’ world, where he won’t be waited on hand and foot and has to do things for himself. (Highlight to view spoiler) Towards the end of the book, it takes Alek quite some time to realise how he really feels about Deryn, but that’s actually okay because of the way in which he realises it. There’s nothing like thinking that someone’s going to die to help you realise that you’re in love with them! In contrast to Alek getting braver, Deryn actually showed a bit of a softer side, especially where Alek was concerned. Although I really love how Deryn is the awesome female bad-ass of the series, I liked seeing this softer side to her. As cruel as it sounds, I actually liked it when she cried because the full spectrum of emotions that she goes through made her a more well-rounded and believable character rather than being the kind of bad-ass who doesn’t have feelings because “feelings are a weakness”. In reality, even the toughest of people get scared and cry, even if they don’t admit to it. When I finished the book, I didn’t want to let go of the series because I’d grown so attached to Alek and Deryn. I loved seeing them grow and their relationship grow from being allies, to friends, to best friends and finally to more than that. They’re just so precious that I’m not ready to let them go yet!

It’s becoming an established fact that I love my settings and we get quite a few in Goliath! Well, four to be exact. This time, we get to go to Russia, Japan, Mexico and finally, the USA. I love how the entire series takes us to different places throughout its world because it’s really fascinating to see how the cultures of all the different countries use whichever technology it is that they use, be it Clanker or Darwinist. Although much of it isn't seen, I loved the Japan setting the most because the mixture of culture and Darwinist creatures is the most abundant there, which was just fascinating to read about. I also really liked being able to see how America was a divided country, similarly to how it was in real life back then, but this time with the country being half-Clanker, half-Darwinist. As with Behemoth, these setting were completely new to me since I haven’t been to any of them so I found it quite fun to imagine what they would be like in the book’s world.

I said in my review of Behemoth that I can’t comprehend how awesome Scott Westerfeld’s writing is. Guess what? I’m going to say it again: I still can’t get over how perfect it is! I honestly can’t remember the last time that a book made my heart race to the point that I could nearly hear it and Goliath had managed to do that, thanks to the beautiful and captivating way in which it is written. Everything about the way the book is written is just perfect: the descriptions still had me in total awe of what the creatures and contraptions of the book would look like in the real world and every subtle hint had me completely hooked and wanting to read on and on. I didn’t talk much about the illustrations in my reviews of the previous two books since I didn’t really appreciate them as much as I did until I finished reading Goliath and spent about two minutes looking at the book’s final full-page illustration with teary eyes. Sometimes reading an event in a book isn’t enough for me. Sometimes I need to see that event immortalised even further in an image, which is what the book’s final illustration did perfectly. And, of course, the illustrations are beautiful throughout the series but they seem especially beautiful in Goliath.

Once I’d read the last sentence of Goliath, I was hit by a reality that was about the weight of a ton of bricks: this is the last book in the Leviathan series. Alek and Deryn’s next adventures will probably not be put onto paper and I can only rely on my own headcanon to create my own adventures and experiences for them. I’m not ashamed to say that that makes me kind of sad, but all good things must come to an end. I can always return to the series in the future if I want to, which I can easily say will be quite a lot of times since I’m not ready to put my now ultimate favourite series ever to bed. As much as I didn’t want it to end, Goliath was the perfect way to end the series and it left me more than satisfied thanks to its absolute perfectness. This series has left a lasting impression on me and the way that I know that is that it has completely taken over my brain and is refusing to leave. That is the way that I know how perfect this series is. The last thing I can think of to say in this review is a huge thank you to Scott Westerfeld for creating such an amazing series that will be my favourite for all eternity.

Review: Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett

Confessions of an Angry Girl
Louise Rozett
Series: Confessions #1
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication date: January 4th 2012
by Mira Ink
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

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This is a story about ROSE.
About the occasional panic attack and being fourteen in the suburbs without a mobile phone.

READ IT
AND WEEP

Rose's first year at Union High isn't exactly going to plan. Her family's broken, her supposed best friend's going boy crazy and Rose is so far behind socially that she might as well be moving backwards.

Until her brother's friend Jamie offers her a ride home - and a way into the world of his popular clique - if only it weren't for his perfect cheerleader girlfriend. Now Rose is learning how to climb the wobbly high-school social ladder, while struggling to hang on to what matters the most...
I’ve started to give the contemporary genre a chance! I’m not really a contemporary person as I’m much more into unrealistic fiction, but since I’ve been reading quite a lot of heavy unrealistic stuff lately, I wanted to read something a little bit lighter and Confessions of an Angry Girl seemed like a perfect way to give myself a break from fantasy. This is one of those books that I saw ages ago and added it to my to-read list, only to forget about it until coming across it in a store. Because I don’t tend to read contemporaries, I hadn’t read any books about someone being plain angry and even though the concept may sound quite simple, I was interested by Confessions and decided to see what it’s like. I managed to get through the book quite quickly, and I wasn’t disappointed by the book.

Confessions of an Angry Girl introduces us to Rose, who is our titular angry girl. Rose has just entered her freshman year in high school and it’s not going so well; her family has drifted apart following her dad’s death in an explosion and her brother moving away to college while her best friend seems to only care about her boyfriend and her precious cheerleading squad, leaving Rose by herself quite a few times. Confessions is probably the shortest book that I’ve read so far this year with 21 chapters, but that doesn’t retract or add to how much I liked the novel’s story.  This is one of those books that invoke a sort of sense of nostalgia in me because I am able to relate to the majority of the events that happen in the book (apart from losing a parent and getting involved with someone else’s boyfriend). I really enjoyed reading the story and I always came back to the book wanting to find out what would find out next and how Rose would react to things that were thrown her way. My one problem is that Rose’s pent up anger doesn’t really come out in full until near the end and when it does, it’s quite abrupt. I wish I could have seen more of that and hope that I’ll get to see more of it in the next book.

I think the characters of Confessions contributed greatly to my liking of the book, especially Rose. I really liked that Rose had plenty of good reasons to feel the way that she did, rather than just being angry for no particular reason, like many of the characters seem to think. Her reasons for being angry made her feel more and more like a genuine person that I can relate to, especially when she is being harassed at school by Jamie’s nasty bitch of a girlfriend Regina. I went through the exact same thing when I was at school but not for the same reason as Rose does. Throughout the entire book, I tended to take Rose’s side, not because she’s the protagonist, but because most of the time, she was right and I actually got frustrated with the other characters, which, bizarrely, is a good thing because that’s probably what the book wants me to do.

Confessions is told from Rose’s point of view, which I really liked.  I loved how Rose’s personality really shows through and at the points of the novel in which she is really angry, you can really tell how angry she is, through the way that the narrative is worded. Another couple of things about the narrative that I like are that Rose’s love of words is shown and also the humour of the novel. I wasn’t expecting the book to have any kind of humour in it at all but I did find some parts of the book and some quotes to be quite humorous.

While I did enjoy Confessions of an Angry Girl, I do wish that Rose was just a little bit angrier since up until the end she just seemed to be really pissed off rather than full on furious with everything, as the title led me to believe. But, that aside, I really did enjoy this book, I enjoyed its story, characters  and humour so much that I’m glad that I’ve started to read more contemporaries.

Follow Friday (25)


Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

ACTIVITY:  Hopefully warm weather for most of us is here soon…so tell us about your favorite outdoor reading spot. Or take a picture.

I don't usually read outside since I'm not a very outdoorsy person so I don't really have a favourite outdoor reading spot. Plus, it sometimes gets really windy where I live so that makes reading outside kinda difficult  >.<

Happy Friday!

Review: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Behemoth
Scott Westerfeld
Illustrated by Keith Thompson
Series: Leviathan #2
Genre: YA Steampunk
Publication date: October 1 2010
by Simon and Schuster
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★★

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The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British Navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, especially now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

On board the great airship Leviathan, Deryn, a girl posing as a boy, and Alek, the secret heir to an empire, are waiting to deliver a hidden cargo they hope will end the war once and for all. But their mission goes disastrously awry, and they find themselves hunted in hostile territory. As the lines between allies and enemies blur, Alek and Deryn will need brave hearts to face the consequences that follow...
I’ve finally gotten to read Behemoth! I remember being giddy with excitement over this book back in 2010 when it was to be released but never got round to reading it because I relied a little bit too much on the school librarian back then and never really bought my own books (bad idea because I don’t know if they ever ordered it in). So I pretty much spent three years sort-of wondering what would happen next in the series and also half forgetting about the series >.< Leviathan is one of my favourite books ever now so I think it’s safe to say that my expectations for Behemoth were incredibly high. Those expectations were met, but I haven’t put the book on a par with its predecessor.

Behemoth continues on a few days from where Leviathan left off, with the airship travelling to Constantinople (Istanbul) to deliver Dr. Barlow’s secret eggs to the sultan which they hope will help to bring the war to an end. Deryn, whose secret has thankfully not been discovered, joins Dr. Barlow on the mission which goes horribly wrong, while Alek and his Clanker team make plans to escape from the airship and into Istanbul. There isn't as much action going on in Behemoth as there is in Leviathan but that’s actually alright since the book sort of serves as a break from tons and tons of action which can sometimes made me feel a little bit overwhelmed. I was constantly itching to know what creatures were inside Dr. Barlow’s eggs and even though they do hatch in the book, the creature itself that hatches is still a bit of a mystery and I’m still itching to know what exactly it is and what it is supposed to be used for (it is a Darwinist creation after all, and they use their creatures as tools). Despite the pace of Behemoth being a bit slower than that of Leviathan’s, there is still a lot going on in the book, even if it isn't exactly high-octane action. Because I was reading the book for the first time, I was treated to experiencing the book’s suspenseful, exciting and even surprising moments for the first moment and even angering myself by catching a glimpse at one of the more ‘revealing’ illustrations while checking the number of pages in the book to track my progress (-_-).  Alek and Deryn are separate again so the story flits back and forth between their two perspectives quite smoothly, as it did in the previous book. Once again, I had no problem following what was going on and who the chapters were focusing on, thanks to Westerfeld’s way of differentiating between the two within the narrative.

In Behemoth, we get to see quite a bit of character development, especially with Alek and Deryn. Out of the two, Alek appears to have grown the most. He’s somewhat outgrown his princely demeanour and become braver, since for the most part, he has been placed in charge of his own rescue operation, with Count Volger and Hoffman still on the Leviathan. It was really awesome so see Alek grow and mature in such a short space of time (well, it’s a matter of months in the book but it’s short for me) and he’s no longer in desperate need of that comforting hug that I wanted to give him while reading Leviathan. I also really enjoyed seeing him interact with the people in Istanbul, since he didn’t have Volger to tell him to keep his head down and shut up, and also since people are on the lookout for Klopp and Bauer, since they are mechanikal engineers. Even though Alek was already a really likable character, the way that he has grown in Behemoth has made me like him even more. The way that Deryn was developed was a little bit odd, she got tougher and a smidge softer at the same time. She gets tougher in terms of becoming even braver than she was in the first place, since she does even more things by herself without any command and just really shows off how bad-ass she truly is. She shows a little bit of a soft side because as the book progresses, it becomes increasingly more obvious that they may be harbouring some feelings for Alek. I seriously hope she does because it’s so cute how jealous she gets of other girls who talk to him >///<

The only little thing that made Behemoth not be on par with Leviathan is the fact that book is consistently set in the same place pretty much all the way through. Although I really liked the Istanbul setting and reading about how Westerfeld envisioned a Clanker version would look and feel during wartime, I felt at some points in the story that it was time to move away from the city and travel to a different setting, similar to how Leviathan does. The setting is probably the reason why the story doesn’t move at the same pace as Leviathan. But, the lack of travelling aside, I imagine that Istanbul is a pretty big city, so at least we were able to see different parts of the city, rather than just staying in the same part all the time! Hopefully I can look forward to more travelling settings in the next book.

I still cannot comprehend how awesomely amazing Scott Westerfeld’s writing is. Seriously, it is just so perfect. I think I’m going to start fangirling over his writing style, but I think I’m entitled to since it’s so good. His descriptions really bring the book to life and then on top of that, they’re complimented by the beautiful illustrations that add even more character to the books in the series. In Behemoth, we see a lot more of the Clanker machines than Darwinist creatures so it was fascinating to visualise what all of these new machines that were being introduced would look like. I honestly think I liked reading about the machines more than the creatures that were more prominent in Leviathan, since the steampunk genre is usually defined by these types of intricate machines rather than natural (or even unnatural) beasts. I also really loved the descriptions of how 1914 Clanker-influenced Istanbul looked and being able to picture that in my mind too. That’s what I love the most about Westerfeld’s writing: it allows the imagination to really wander and paint its own pictures.

While I was very, very, incredibly impressed by Behemoth, it wasn’t as earth-shatteringly awesome as Leviathan was. On my theoretical scale of awesomeness, Leviathan is up at the very top, whereas Behemoth is about an inch underneath, so I’m giving it five stars. I am really geared up for the final book in the series! Get it? Gear? Because this is a steampunk series? Ah, forget it.

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss
Stephanie Perkins
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publication date: December 2 2010
by Dutton
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★★

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Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she's not too pleased when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year  But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new friends, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he's taken - and Anna might be too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she's been waiting for?
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of contemporary romance. A book that is about regular humans falling in love usually won’t spark my interest unless it has something that seems extra special to me. With Anna and the French Kiss, the fact that the book is set in Paris (my favouritest place in the whole wide world) is what sparked my interest. If a book has anything to do with Paris (or even France as a whole) I am completely sold. Plus, I’d seen quite a lot of people raving about how good the book is so I’d picked it up as soon as I’d spotted it in a bookshop. I’d prepared myself to enjoy the book since I was in the mood for something light-hearted and I really wasn't disappointed.

Anna and the French Kiss tells of Anna Oliphant (cleverly nicknamed ‘Banana Elephant’ by her best friend Bridgette; but only Bridge can call her that) who has been sent to an American boarding school located in Paris, by her father who writes clichéd novels that always end in death. While at SOAP (School of America in Paris), she struggles with language barriers and explores the City of Light with her new friends: Meredith, Rashmi, Josh and the incredibly charming Étienne St. Clair. St. Clair has it all: looks, intelligence, charms… and a girlfriend. However, that doesn’t stop Anna and St. Clair from becoming the best of friends and maybe even having deeper feelings for each other. What I loved the most about Anna’s story is that while it is sweet and breezy, there is always something going on that keeps the story going strong. Even though it’s not the fastest moving of novels, every event that happened in the novel had its own element of surprise and excitement that would catch me off guard and make me want to continue reading on. I couldn’t put the book down since I kept wanting to know what would happen next and because the story is pretty easy to follow, I was able to get through a lot of the book in one day.

The strongest element of Anna and the French Kiss is definitely the characters. I loved how lively and real they were and made reading the book even more fun and enjoyable than reading already is. Anna is probably one of my favourite YA characters ever now because of her genuine personality which I just loved. She’s very well-rounded so she’s not always happy or always sad, which is just like real people are and I really like seeing characters who experience a full spectrum of emotions rather than just one or two that are similar to each other. I think one of the many reasons why I liked her so much is because she really loves cinema, just like I do and I always feel like I can relate to a character more if I have things in common with them (although with Anna it’s just that we both like film, there’s nothing else that I have in common with her) and I loved reading about what she thinks of films and who her favourite director is (Anna’s favourite director is Sofia Coppola, while mine is Sofia’s father, Francis Ford Coppola). Another thing that I like about Anna is that when she’s done something wrong, she doesn’t think nothing of it, she knows that she’s done something wrong, especially when it comes to stuff that happens with St. Clair. Smart girlie is smart and I love her for that.

I think I am a new addition to the Étienne St. Clair fan club if it exists. I’m not usually a fan of fictional boys that are described to have a ‘British’ accent (I’m surrounded by British boys every day and the vast majority of them are pretty gross) but St. Clair is actually American, so that makes him better in my view ^_^ What I really like the most about St. Clair is that from the first point that he is introduced, he is just the nicest guy in the world. Why is it that in YA fiction, the hot boy is usually introduced as a total douchebag but then gets nicer as the book continues? Really, after reading Anna and the French Kiss I want to see more boys that are introduced as nice and then continue on with being nice. St. Clair is pretty much a faultless boy and I just want him to be mine, so everyone else can just give him to me. Please? No? Fine *pouts*

The setting of Anna and the French Kiss is what made me pick up the book in the first place. Paris is my absolute, undisputed favourite place in the entire universe and reading this novel reminded me of how much I want to go back there (I actually am going to Paris this summer ^_^). I loved being taken to all of the essential destinations of Paris along with Anna and also to some parts of the city that I haven’t been to and now must go to. I also love how accurate Perkins’ descriptions of Paris are; I don’t think it could have been any more accurate than it already is.

Anna and the French Kiss is told in the present tense from Anna’s perspective and there is not much I can say other than the fact that I loved it. Perkins has given her narrator a highly entertaining voice that sounds very realistic while reading. I am just in complete and total love with the way that Perkins has written this book; Anna’s narrative is fun and on top of that we get beautiful descriptions of Paris and its surroundings which are very accurate. I seriously cannot rave enough about how perfect it is!

Sweet and undeniably cute, Anna and the French Kiss has definitely made me think twice about contemporary romance. I’ll definitely give the genre a chance since I enjoyed this book so much. There was always something going on with the incredibly likeable characters in Anna’s story and I just had to keep going through the book because it was just sooooo good. I love Perkins’ writing and I will definitely reading Anna’s companion novels!

Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan
Scott Westerfeld
Illustrated by Keith Thompson
Series: Leviathan #1
Genre: YA Steampunk
Publication date: October 6 2009
by Simon and Schuster
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★★+

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TWO OPPOSING FORCES ON THE BRINK OF WAR

The Clankers, who put their faith in machinery, are squaring up to the Darwinists, who have begun evolving living creatures into tools.

Prince Aleksandar, the would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, comes from a family of Clankers, and travels the country in a walker, a heavily-fortified tank on legs.

Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy, works for the British Empire, crewing an airship made of living animals- the ultimate flying machine.

Now, as Alek runs from his own people, and Deryn crash-lands in enemy territory, their lives are about to collide...
Because I'm incredibly awkward and simply can't skip to the next book in the series, I have re-read this book for review purposes and to calm whatever OCD I have about series.

Scott Westerfeld is possibly my all-time favourite YA author. I love the Uglies series, which is the series that got me into reading YA books on a regular basis and enhanced my love of reading. I originally read Leviathan while at school and it was actually the first book that I eagerly waited for its release; I borrowed it from the library and asked the school librarian if she could get the second book in, but I don’t know if she ever did (either way, it’s too late now because I left school two years ago). I'd spent months and months trying to find the series in bookshops and once I found it, bought the whole series since I can’t just buy the rest of the series without the first one and had to remind myself of what happens in the first book before continuing on in the series. Man, did I forget how awesome Leviathan is.

Leviathan takes place in an alternate version of World War I, where there are two main opposing forces: the Clankers, who rely heavily on steam-powered machinery, and the Darwinists, who use creatures that have been evolved further as tools. Prince Aleksandar, the son of Archduke Ferdinand and Princess Sophie, is woken in the middle of the night by his teachers, Count Volger and Master Klopp, with news that they must flee Austria on his father’s orders in their Stormwalker. While in England, Deryn Sharp, a girl with a dream for flying, disguises herself as boy and renames herself Dylan in order to become a soldier and serve the Darwinist British Empire in the Air Service. When a section of the test she takes goes awry, she arrives on the airship Leviathan and begins her term as a soldier. What I loved the most about the book’s story is that there is never a single dull moment and there is always something lurking around the corner. Even though I had read the book before, I was still surprised by the turns in the story, tense from the suspense and excited by the action. I didn’t feel a need to rush through Leviathan because I was enjoying the book so much and every single word reminded me of why I loved the book so much when I first read it. But this time round, I liked the book even more because I understood the more complicated parts, specifically those concerning the Darwinists. The Darwinists of the book elaborated on Charles Darwin’s original findings of natural selection. They discovered that all living organisms have ‘life strings’ that can be weaved with those of other animals to make newly fabricated creatures which are then used as tools and even weapons of war, like the Leviathan itself, which breathes hydrogen to transport itself and its crew into the air. Even though I haven’t delved particularly far into the steampunk genre, I liked how a little bit of science-fiction was woven into the genre to make it seem incredibly unique. Because I understood many of the parts of the story better than I did when I first read Leviathan, I enjoyed the book a lot more.

I couldn’t help but love the vast majority of Leviathan’s characters, since they’re all just so damn likeable. If I had to pick a favourite character in the book, it would definitely be a tie between Alek and Deryn. I loved Alek because he is trying so incredibly hard to hide how frightened he is by the war and also his sorrow at his parents’ deaths. I just wanted to jump into the book and give him a hug. He might not have accepted it, but whatever; boy was in desperate need of a good comforting hug. I think what I really liked the most about Alek is that despite his status as a prince (a prince with no power nonetheless), he isn’t stuck-up and is a completely genuine person, which made me like him even more and more as the book progressed. Deryn (or Dylan to the book’s characters), on the other hand, is just awesome. I love Westerfeld’s female characters because they don’t conform to how other people want them to be and just don’t have a shell at all. Deryn almost reminded me of myself as I hate wearing skirts and being girly too (if I were given the choice of wearing a dress at a tea party or going up into the air in whatever I wanted, I would pick the last one). I really admired how brave she is compared to the other midshipmen on the Leviathan and every time she thought she would come close to being caught by someone, I was really hoping that she wouldn’t. It was often amusing – specifically towards the end of the book – to see her forget to act like a boy and nearly blow her cover, only to have to remind herself that she needed to be a boy and mutter a swear to herself.

Since I usually talk about settings, I thought it was interesting how Leviathan never stays in just one place. Since both Alek and Deryn are travelling to places, we are constantly moving around with them across Europe, until a crucial part of the novel in which the two stories are brought together. I always like to see multiple locations in books, since just sitting around in one place gets a little bit boring after a while. I haven’t read many books that take place in Europe, so I had a bit of fun seeing how many of the places mentioned in the book I’d been to (I’ve been to four of them: England, France, Switzerland and Germany).

I’ve loved Westerfeld’s writing style since I read his novel Uglies; I’m always able to get a clear and vivid image of what it is that is being described or shown and the style feels different in each of his series due to the vocabulary that is used in the narrative. In Leviathan, Westerfeld uses both new terms that have been created for the novel and also somewhat stereotypically ‘British’ slang when the narrative focuses on Deryn. I say stereotypical because I’ve never said ‘clart’ or blether’ or ‘barking spiders!’ a day in my life and neither have any of the people that I know personally. It might also show the time period, since swearing was obviously a lot milder back in 1914. In terms of descriptions, the descriptions of the contraptions of beasts that we see in Leviathan are just fantastic. Even though there are illustrations present that help out those who may have trouble visualising, the descriptions really let the imagination run free with what the contraptions look like, especially when the Leviathan itself is described. I had a bit of trouble visualising what it looked like at times, which is where the illustrations came in handy for me. I’m usually quite critical of books that are told from two points of view, but because Westerfeld writes in the third-person, the multiple POVs worked incredibly well. I knew exactly who the story was focusing on from the way that the chapters were written. The chapters that focus on Alek are more formal-sounding, which suits his status as a prince, while the Deryn chapters feel looser and use the slang terms that I mentioned above. The way that they’re written definitely makes it easier to follow the focus rather than if the book was written from two first-person perspectives, which would just confuse the hell out of me.

I usually tend to not like books as much as I did the first time that I read them, but Leviathan didn’t fail to blow me away again. Re-reading the book completely reminded me of why I loved it in the first place and it actually felt like I was reading it for the first time, since it had been such a long time since I first read Leviathan. I loved the action, the tension and the characters of Leviathan and am looking forward to delving further into this purely awesome series.