Earlier in the year I reviewed Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, a novel that had its flaws, but which I ultimately loved. Behemoth was no different. There is not much new to say about it, for it was mostly a continuation of the first novel. There were new characters introduced, including a girl with a crush on “Dylan,” who we know to be a girl, and who is, inevitably, crushing on Alek. This creates some painful adolescent tension, especially in the chapters which detail Deryn’s awkward attempts to shake the girl’s affections.
Most of the tension in the novel, however, comes from the outbreak of outright war in Europe. The Leviathan has docked in Istanbul. Allegedly, Istanbul is neutral, but Deryn and Alek uncover what looks to be an alliance with Germany and its allies. Because Alek is Austrian and Deryn and her crew are British, Alek and his retinue are viewed with suspicion and doubt. They become prisoners aboard the Leviathan until the Crown can be contacted to decide what to do with them. Alek escapes and joins a group of rebels who wish the overthrow the sultan, and finds that his goals align with their own. The novel consists mainly of large machine vs. beasty battles, great escapes, and plotting in dark rooms. It’s exciting for most of the novel, and thoroughly enjoyable for what it is, which is a novel for young adults. The writing style is simple and easy to digest, and the characters face problems similar to those teenagers often face today, in addition to things like diverting war and attempting to reclaim a throne.
It was, like the first, quite good, and the novel even had a slightly better ending! I found this fact to be tremendously exciting. The only critique I really have for it is the heavy emphasis on machinery in this one. My personal preference is for the beasties, and I could have used a bit more detail about them. For plot, writing, characters, and creativity, it’s as winning, if not more so, than the first. Please read this series!