Opening: “‘Siberia,’ Alek said. The word slipped cold and hard from his tongue, as forbidding as the landscape passing below.”
The final chapter in the Leviathan trilogy! Yay. It was a nice conclusion to the story. Interestingly, this book seemed heftier than the other two, both in terms of the sheer size, and the intricacies of the plot.
The heart of the books is really Alek and Deryn’s relationship. And oh my, do things ever happen! Having danced around the topic of Deryn’s gender for two books, Alek finally discovers her secret. It’s hard to write a complete relationship arc in the final book of a trilogy, and I’m not sure that Westerfeld quite manages to pull it off. But it’s close, and of course, I’ve been cheering for them since the first book. In the end, I was content to be satisfied. I had, in that last two books, found myself a bit dubious about Deryn. Some of that was cleared up in this book, and we do see other strong female characters who don’t have to act masculine to have influence.
One of the great strengths of the trilogy is Westerfeld’s seemingly effortless portrayal of this alternate history. He creates not just the Darwinists and the Clankers, but several half-Clanker, half-Darwinist countries, which have their own adaptations of both.
However, my main problem with the book was part of that alternate history. In short, like Ana at The Book Smugglers, I was very bothered by the portrayal of Nikola Tesla. I know that he has a certain reputation as an eccentric, but it seems unfair to have a man of genius reduced to a mad scientist. Also, having just read Ultraviolet, the mad scientist plus the possibility of him being a synasthete made me even more uncomfortable. I was hoping that Westerfeld would clear this up a bit in the author’s note, but instead what we got was a reference to the “mad scientist’s lair.”
Much as this bothered me, it is only one strand of a story which I otherwise enjoyed. I thought that the ending was satisfying and credible, and I liked the insights into Volger’s character.
Just for the record: my favorite character is definitely Bovril. Can I please have a perspicacious loris?
I found myself noticing Keith Thompson’s illustrations more in this book than I had in Leviathan or Behemoth. They’re beautiful! I love the sense of motion he gives to certain scenes and portraits.
Book source: public library
Book information: Simon Pulse, 2011; YA