Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Kearsten's Book Club: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

This week, Kearsten's Book Club met for the last time in 2012 to discuss the first in Scott Westerfeld's steampunk trilogy, Leviathan. Set in an alternate pre-World War I history, Leviathan is the story of Alek, the on-the-run, orphaned son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and Deryn, a British teen who's disguised herself as a boy in order to join the British Air Service. These two form a tenuous friendship, but not before some major crazy air and steam warfare goes down.

Book club was small this month, but we had a great discussion about this illustrated (in a style Westerfeld describes as 'Victorian manga', a description that we LOVE) steampunk story pitting steam-driven machines against genetically engineered animal/machines. We discussed the ethical and moral implications of the Darwinists' creations (hydrogen-producing whale airships, hybrid tiger-wolves), the advanced technology and the way it contrasted with the strict social hierarchy of the Victorian era, and what, if anything, mattered enough to each of us to get us to hide who we are (male/female) in order to get it. We also discussed the fact that so many of the events of the story are based on actually historical happenings - one of our book clubbers wondered why more history books aren't written in this exciting, narrative style!

We also talked about the illustrations, done by Keith Thompson, with nearly all of us feeling the book would have been incomplete without them - Kearsten, for example, didn't have trouble picturing the Austrian mechanical devices, but simply couldn't picture the whale-sized leviathan without the help of the awesome pictures!

Overall, Kearsten's Book Club enjoyed Leviathan, and #MustacheYouToRead it!

Already read the Leviathan series? Try out one of these similar titles, recommended by book club members!

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel. Matt, a young cabin boy aboard an airship, and Kate, a wealthy young girl traveling with her chaperone, team up to search for the existence of mysterious winged creatures reportedly living hundreds of feet above the Earth's surface.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce.  Eleven-year-old Alanna, who aspires to be a knight even though she is a girl, disguises herself as a boy to become a royal page, learning many hard lessons along her path to high adventure.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. Lyra Belacqua is content wot run wild among the scholars of Jodan College, with her demon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle -- a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armored bears. And as she hurtles toward danger in the cold far North, Lyra never suspects the shocking truth: she alone is destined to win, or lose, this more-than-mortal battle.

The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare (beginning with Clockwork Angel). When sixteen-year-old orphan Tessa Fell's older brother suddenly vanishes, her search for him leads her into Victorian-era London's dangerous supernatural underworld, and when she discovers that she herself is a Downworlder, she must learn to trust the demon-killing Shadowhunters if she ever wants to learn to control her powers and find her brother.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Creatures once extinct now roam Jurassic Park, soon-to-be opened as a theme park. Until something goes wrong...and science proves a dangerous toy...

And if you've a love of anime, Michelle recommends you watch Steamboy (description from IMDB.com): In 1860s Britain, a boy inventor finds himself caught in the middle of a deadly conflict over a revolutionary advance in steam power.

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