Missed part one of this series review? Find it here.
After tramping around in the mountains, Deryn and Alek make it to exotic Istanbul, where the mechas are shaped like animals, and fighting is done with peppers and newspapers.
The Leviathan (remember that flying whale from book 1?) has arrived on a peace-keeping mission. See, some people got upset when Britain pinched the warship creature Istanbul bought from them. The hope was to console the Sultan with a single, tiny egg and keep them from siding with the Germans in the war. They find out it’s too late; the Germans got there first and have been schmoozing the Ottomans for ages. And honestly, the German bribes seem a lot better.
Alek takes this chance to escape from the Leviathan because he’s still Austrian and thus an enemy. He hopes to blend in with the German crowd and go hermit somewhere else.The peace-keeping failed, Deryn is immediately sent on a mission to sabotage the Ottomans. Two-faced much? But that’s politics, I guess.
The Quills: 7/10
The soldiers cried out, unshouldering their rifles, and soon gunshots echoed around the taxi. Alek ducked, feeling as though his teeth were being shaken from his head. Dylan’s arms were wrapped around Klopp’s waist to keep them both from flying out of the taxi. Bauer had his hands on the toolboxes, and Alek reached down to secure the small satchel on the floor.
The only sound from the birdcage was Bovril’s maniacal laughter.
-Scott Westerfeld, Behemoth
Like Leviathan (the book, not the flying whale), Behemoth is young adult steampunk science fiction (say that ten times fast) told in third person, alternating between Alek and Deryn, and like Leviathan, the world is built very well. While reading, I could breathe the exotic air and stumble across the broken cobblestones.
Alek is more of a character in this book. As in, he’s no longer just Confusion Boy. He has a goal and the determination to see it through. That’s good. He’s not just being dragged along by circumstance and all his staff anymore. Deryn is her usual spunky self, and I’m glad that hasn’t changed. The new characters introduced in Istanbul are very interesting, and not totally one-dimensional, which is good too.
There is a lot more action in this book, and as you can probably tell from the quote, some of it is clunky. It’s not super fast-paced action writing, which is a little disappointing, however it is still an improvement over the first book. It’s just that there’s more of it, so it’s more prominent.
Some of the plot didn’t totally make sense. For example, why send a team on a mission when one person does the job, and the other four are supposed to just stand around? You can tell they’re not functioning as lookouts either. Furthermore, some of the events were too much of a coincidence to be believable.
The Roses: 7/10
I liked this book, but I didn’t fall in love with it. There was this whole budding romance thing that felt really awkward, especially with Deryn’s personality. She sounds very young, spunky, and tomboyish, so the “romantic” passages are really explicitly stated and don’t feel like romance.
I really liked that Alek found some direction, because he was annoying me with the wishy-washy uselessness. He still makes a lot of dumb choices in this book, and talks about providence too much (kind of like, in your face, I’m typical royalty!) but it’s a start.
Some of the events seemed kind of contrived but I doubt the younger YA or upper middle grade audience will question it all that much.
Behemoth is the action-packed sequel to Leviathan that really completes the plot line of the first book (seriously, when Leviathan ended, I was like, “That was it?”) and is great if you don’t mind that the action limps along at times.