Saturday, October 16, 2010

Children’s Books: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

It does not matter -- it should not matter -- that Behemoth (Simon Pulse) is simply one of the most beautiful books you’re likely to see in this format. From the strikingly beautiful cover design, through the remarkable end-papers, the clear and careful typography and even Keith Thompson’s wonderfully illustrative pen and ink sketches.

It does not matter -- and it should not matter, and yet all of these things are indicative of the care and thought that’s gone into every semi-colon of Behemoth, the second installment in Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series.

And though Behemoth is aimed precisely at the young adult market, steampunk fans everywhere are likely to enthuse about the book that confirms what I’ve been suspecting for a while: steampunk is back, but with a vengeance.

Behemoth offers up the further adventures of Alek, heir to the Austrian throne and, when we last saw him, prisoner of war and Deryn, a girl who has posed as a boy to gain entrance to the British Air Service.

In the best traditions of steampunk, the world Westerfeld has created here is familiar, yet everything is slightly askew. There is about Behemoth the scent of alternate history, but with a definite difference. A high stakes adventure, with just a dusting of romance. We’ve always known Westerfeld was a contender, but Behemoth really brings that home. ◊

Lincoln Cho is a freelance writer and editor. He lives in the Chicago area, where he works in the high-tech industry. He is currently working on a his first novel, a science-fiction thriller set in the world of telecommunications.

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