Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Read This: Goliath

by Scott Westerfeld

The Short Story 
World War I will hopefully be over soon for everyone aboard the Leviathan. But what will that mean for Deryn, who is a girl pretending to be a boy? Or Alek, the secret heir to the Austrian throne? And what lengths will they go to if it means stopping the war? New characters, new countries, new weapons, and a lot of adventures make Goliath an enjoyable ending to the Leviathan series. 4/5

Come for the...
mixing of fiction with real life. I recently read an interview where Scott Westerfeld talked about all the research he did for this series, including looking up little details about how widely available zippers were back in the early 1900's. You probably won't notice any of that detail as you read Goliath, but I really enjoyed the things that did stick out to me. One scene in particular had a news/film/camera man talking to Deryn about shooting the crew as they got off the ship. Her response is "You want to shoot them?" It seriously made me laugh much longer than it should have. The entire series has such interesting (and non-existent) technology and biology that it's a nice juxtaposition not having (very existent) TV and film. I really enjoyed the world Scott Westerfeld created.

But even more than the world-building, I loved the characters. After three books with them, I felt like I understood the different people and their motivations. Volger continued to be one of my favorites, even though he wasn't in the book much. I liked the inclusion of real people from history, like Nikola Tesla, William Randolph Hearst, and the girl reporter (whose name escapes me right now. Rogers, maybe?) I wouldn't have minded a little less of the new people in favor of more time with the old characters, but they added a sense of mystery and danger to the story.

Stay for the
flying; the beasties; the slang words; The Perils of Pauline; the illustrations; and the afterword, that spells out history from fiction.

Don't think about this too hard
  • I can't really say why without spoiling, but I was disappointed with the way Dr. Barlow's character was handled. I expected a lot more from her.
  • Occasionally the series (and especially this book) reminded me of Disney's Mulan. I know neither one invented the trope of a girl dressing as a boy for one reason or another, but I think the comparison is more unavoidable than it could have been.
  • The book started out a little slow for me. I think it took maybe 50-75 pages to really get into it.

The Big Three
Language: not an issue
Sex and Stuff: not an issue
Violence: this is set during World War I, so lots of fighting, bombings, attack animals, and some death (one scene and illustration were a little graphic)

Just So You Know
I read a free e-galley from Simon & Schuster via Galley Grab. Goliath is now available.


  1. I have the first one but I still haven't got to it. I'm not a HUGE fan of Westerfeld's other series so I'm pretty hesitant.

  2. My son read the first one and liked it. I will be on the look out for this one for him soon. Thanks for sharing the review.

  3. Juju, they're fun books. Very different from other things that I've read. :)

    Jenny, I can understand that. I'm not sure which of his other books you've read, so I can't compare. I liked this one better than Uglies, though. There's more adventure and less relationship-ing. So I think this one plays to what Westefeld is good at.

    Christy, thanks. I hope he likes it. :)