Saturday, June 18, 2011
Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
Well, I've read this book and now my life is complete.
Several weeks ago I blogged about my love of the two previous books in the Leviathan trilogy, and how I couldn't wait for the conclusion. Words can not describe how happy I was when I finally got my hands on an Advanced Reviewers copy! After a brief period of fangirl spasms, I began to read the 543 page-long novel. (Which I finished in less than 24 hours, thank you very much.)
If you aren't familiar with the Leviathan trilogy, go back and read my previous post on it or be hopelessly confused!
The two main characters, Alek and Deryn, are back on the airship Leviathan. This time, the ship is bound for Siberia, where they have orders to pick up an important passenger, who is none other than Nikola Tesla, a mad scientist who claims to have a weapon called Goliath that could put a halt to WWI. This weapon could possibly threaten the enemy into agreeing to peace. Alek decides to politically support Tesla, as he is the possible heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, and all he wants is peace.
Things get complicated when he finally learns Deryn's deeply kept secret. He finally discovers his best friend and ally is actually a girl in disguise so she can serve in the air service, and he also learns that she's in love with him.
Then, upon an unexpected turn of events, the Leviathan begins an around the world trip to the United States of America, where Alek and Deryn face scandal, drama, and surprises at every turn, while Tesla prepares to fire his weapon that could destroy a major city, and it's up to the two of them to stop him before it's too late.
An excellent, exciting, and gripping conclusion to a wildly creative series. This book delivers what all the fans want: action, adventure, humor, and a love story like no other. The thick volume goes over quite a bit, completing the around the world trip in this alternate version of earth where amazing machines and beasts lurk. And there's always enough action and intrigue supplied to keep readers turning pages. Alek and Deryn are chased by bears as tall as houses in Russia, experience unique dining in Japan, ride on top of the airship in the middle of a hurricane, attend fancy banquets, and star in Hearst's motion pictures. There was never a dull moment. And all the beautiful illustrations captured the text and made it visual, it really brought the book to life.
It was a bit crazy of course, I think there was enough going on that Goliath could have been split into two books instead of having one massive series-ender. But it was fine all the same. The battle scenes, as always, were well done, plus the illustrations keep you from getting confused.
Since everything in the series is based on an alternate version of World War I, it doesn't always match actual history, but there's plenty of historical fact and characters incorporated. We meet actual historical figures, such as the crazy Nikola Tesla, girl reporter Adela Rogers, newspaper and film mogul William Randolph Hearst, and Mexican Revolution leader Poncho Villa. The book has an Afterwards where Westerfeld explains fact from fiction.
Another element that was overall well done was Alek and Deryn's complicated relationship. I can't stand reading straight-up romance, so I liked that it wasn't overly focused on, since this is a book about war. How he found out that she was a girl was really interesting and unpredictable, and how it played out afterwards was pretty awesome. But it was really well crafted, and at times utterly sweet. Pretty soon Alek is doing whatever it takes to protect her secret, helping her hide her body and whatnot. It was great how much he cared. Their transition from best friends to soul mates was carried on well without overkill, and it definitely builds upon the story.
The ending was nice, even though I wish things were slightly more explained. This wasn't vital, but it would have been appreciated. Then again, we can pretty much assume what happens...
Overall an outstanding way to end a best-selling trilogy. I'm so sad it's over!
THE BOTTOM LINE:
A thunderous, exciting, and gripping final book to a unique war-meets-fantasy series. It was good enough to deserve...