Scott Westerfeld knows how to spin a good series as demonstrated in Uglies. Leviathan is the start of another one, though this new series is anchored firmly in the world of steampunk, which, in a short definition, combines Victorian era surroundings and ethics (with the era's prejudices about women and minorities) with an alternate history, particularly involving the development of technology. Examples of this are The Golden Compass, Airborn, and Mortal Engines.
This series opens on the eve of World War 1, which pits two world powers and technologies against each other. On one side is the British who have taken Darwinist experiments to a new level. "Leviathan" is the name of the massive British "Huxley" jellyfish-derived airship, which has been bioengineered from diverse animal materials into an organic war creature. This stands in sharp contrast to the Austro-Hungarian "Clankers," which take walking robotic, mechanical tanks to new levels of sophistication and violent efficiency.
The tales of Alek, deposed heir to the Austro Hungarian empire, becomes intertwined with Deryn, a girl in disguise, living out her dream of become a member of the males only British Air Service. They both face strange and possibly untrustworthy characters and so called "allies" on both sides of the conflict. Everyone appears to have a secret and a secret agenda. While war seems inevitable, the outcome, this time around is uncertain.
Would you rather pilot a Huxley (living animal genetically-combined flying creature) or a Stormwalker (immense walking/running tank)?
Can Count Volger or Master Klopp be trusted? What about the strange female Darwinist scientist, Dr Barlow?
What are your guesses about the next part of this story? Will you keep reading?