Spoilers if you haven’t read book one, Leviathan!!
Behemoth, the second book is Scott Westerfeld’s amazing Leviathan trilogy, picks up where the story left off in Leviathan. I worried, when picking this book up, if it was going to suffer the same fate as a lot of middle books, being something just linking books one and three. It definitely had a lot to live up to also, with how much I adored Leviathan. But not to fear; Behemoth delivered, definitely. Yes, it ties the story together, but it has so much that stands alone in it, that it makes for a wonderful adventure.
Alek and his crew are aboard the Leviathan, which is sailing towards the Ottoman empire, at the need of Dr. Nora Darwin Barlow, the scientist they picked up in London before they crashed in the Swiss Alps. This gives the Clankers a lot of time to adjust to life on a Darwinist ship, and Alek finds himself enjoying it more than he thought. His friendship is growing with Deryn, though he knows her as Dylan. But they can’t relax; the British government wants them, and after their stop in Istanbul the Leviathan will set sail for home, bringing the potential heir to the Austria-Hungary throne into enemy territory and potentially harm’s way.
Panicked, Alek asks Deryn to help them escape, which she does, though the thought of not being around him anymore is killing her. Yep, you guessed it; Deryn is developing strong feelings for Alek, even though he is an heir to a throne and she is just a commoner. Good thing he thinks she’s a boy, because even though she’s attracted to him, she knows it can never be.
Eventually, Alek escapes into the Ottoman Empire and gets swept up in the Revolution happening there, hoping that he once and for all can do some good and try and stop the war that started when his parents were murdered.
Deryn’s life on the Leviathan has also been interesting as of late. She saved a comrade from an encounter with a bolt of lightning, but this lightning was anything but natural. German war boats sailing under them created it with a Tesla Cannon, and shocked them in an attempt to ignite the hydrogen that keeps them aloft and kill them all. Things build as Deryn is recognized for this feat of heroics, and soon after she’s given her own special mission in Istanbul, something that, if she succeeds, will help them in the war.
Like with any good book, things happen that no one expects, and the main characters end up turning to each other once again for help and support, as they get pulled deeper into a war they both would rather forget.
So much fun stuff happens in Behemoth, really making it a wonderful addition to the series. Westerfeld did his history homework, because the levels of truth ring strongly throughout the book. Like the machines and fabricated animals before it, the blending of history into this crazy world was done so seamlessly that it felt real and captured my imagination. It also had me wanting to pick up a book and re-read about WWI, the details were so intricate. And I can’t forget the new machines and crazy animal fabrications. So much uniqueness happens in this book (which wasn’t expected), and after all the amazing elements in Leviathan, I didn’t think I’d be as engaged as I was with the first book. But Westerfeld definitely raises the bar a bit higher; the war efforts, character development both individually and together, and the new beasties and machines had me engrossed and reading Behemoth in almost one sitting. The ending is wonderfully done, and leaves readers in a good place to lead into the third and final book of the series.
Behemoth really was great. Definitely not the let-down I was expecting, and it made me want to cheer for the couple getting together even more, giving me an ache in my heart as I read about their struggles. This book is balanced perfectly between action and adventure, character development and story plotting. All in all, an excellent second book for an equally excellent series.
Behemoth released on October 5th, 2010.