Review: Goliath-Scott Westerfeld

Title: Goliath
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Release Date: December 2011
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 5 Hoots
Reviewer: Lydia

Alek and Deryn are on the last leg of their round-the-world quest to end World War I, reclaim Alek’s throne as prince of Austria, and finally fall in love. The first two objectives are complicated by the fact that their ship, the Leviathan, continues to detour farther away from the heart of the war (and crown). And the love thing would be a lot easier if Alek knew Deryn was a girl. (She has to pose as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service.) And if they weren’t technically enemies.
The tension thickens as the Leviathan steams toward New York City with a homicidal lunatic on board: secrets suddenly unravel, characters reappear, and nothing is at it seems in this thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s brilliant trilogy. (Goodreads)
This is the conclusion of Westerfield’s Leviathan series. This novel conclusion of the trilogy has as much fervor as the first two, Leviathan and Behemoth, as promised. In fact, the entire trilogy is highly recommended for anyone interested in speculative science fiction.
Westerfield is a master of integrating true historical elements into a plotline. The overall concept, where Darwinists (those who believe the future should be based on the development of existing natural animal species) and the Clankers (who believe machines and mechanics are the future) are in conflict induces readers to think and ponder. Within this well constructed plotline, Westerfield includes a number of historical settings, such as Siberia, Vladivostock, and Manhattan, as well as personages, such as Tesla, Hearst, and Pancho Villa, that enhance and rounds out the overall plotline. As a result, the reader is thrust into a realistic world.
However, in this science fiction world, there are physical elements of war, such as large mechanical machines and air balloons made of natural (as in animalistic) features that exist as possibly weapons of war, as in World War II. In this novel, Tesla plays a central role as a scientist (or is he a mad man) who develops an electrical machine designed to end the war. Or is Darwin’s great-granddaughter; with her highly developed evolutionary animals could possibly be the deciding factor in the war? Or even the prince of Austria-Hungary?
Throughout this novel the relationship of the decorated airman Dylan, a female in disguise as a male, and her relationship to Alex, the prince of Austria-Hungary, acts as a catalytic force. The friendship they forge is solid and strong, Alex and a few others close to the prince have realized Dylan is really Deryn. What will that mean for her as an airman, the only career she has ever wanted, though others now know her secret? This romantic (or is it?) relationship is a powerful force, not only personally, but also as a power in the plot.
Westerfield is an exceptional writer. This novel, unlike other third books in a trilogy, continues to provide the reader with the same excitement (perhaps even more), rapid pacing accompanied by full and rounded descriptions as exhibited in the first two books of the series. His writing is concise, tight with descriptions that occur at the right time and in the right quantity which truly entice the reader. Furthermore, there are the elegant and provocative black and white pictorials interspersed throughout all of the series.
This novel is full of action, yet with a logical flow of overall plots and subplots which simply encourage the reader to keep reading. Despite the length of this book (543 pages in hardback), readers may find themselves unable to put the book down. Westerfield, the author of the Uglies series, is a fine writer with a true gift of bringing fictional elements into a real world reality. As a result, he gives readers a familiar basis upon which he adds his own fantasy/science fiction reality. Readers cannot help but to be drawn in to his worlds. What fun.

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