About the Book:
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld is the second book in a trilogy of alternate history. I listened to the first and second installments in quick succession; the third, sadly, hasn’t yet been published. I discussed Leviathan, the trilogy’s first book, last week. For background on the story, please see my thoughts on Leviathan.
Behemoth picks up seamlessly where Leviathan left off. To avoid revealing any plot points, I’ll simply say that Behemoth continues the adventures of our hero, Alek, and heroine, Deryn, against the backdrop of a new version of World War I.
As I said in my thoughts on Leviathan, the trilogy is categorized as steampunk. When I confessed to not really knowing what that meant, Clare from the Literary Omnivore was kind enough to provide a definition: “Steampunk is simply Victorianesque science fiction,” she says. I’d not have thought I’d enjoy such books, and yet…apparently I do! This trilogy is also one of my first forays into alternate histories, to which I am also less averse than I’d previously assumed. I love it when assumptions like these are proved wrong.
I’d said in my thoughts on Leviathan that it moved just a shade too slowly at times for me. Well, I did not have the same complaint about Behemoth. The societies and characters having been well established in Leviathan, Behemoth was able to plow ahead with the plot. I didn’t want to stop listening and found myself making up things to do around the house that would allow me to continue my audiobook.
Deryn, who I really liked in Leviathan, secured her spot as my favorite character in Behemoth. I love her unique combination of creativity, bravery, and humanity. Where Alek can be a bit dense (though always good-hearted), Deryn is perceptive and clever without ever getting too big for her britches. I admire her, root for her, and absolutely enjoy following her story.
As with Leviathan, reader Alan Cumming did a phenomenal job with the audiobook. It’s been mentioned to me that the print version is beautiful and well worth experiencing. I’d say the same about the audio! It seems to be a case like Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, where the print and audio forms both offer something wonderful. The good news is that whichever way you choose to experience Westerfeld’s trilogy is sure to be great. You may even want to do both!
When I finished Behemoth, I was quite disappointed the final volume of the trilogy wasn’t out; I’m sure I’d have devoured it immediately as well. The combination of characters, world, and story Westerfeld has created makes these books the kind you’re reluctant to leave behind. After listening to the first two, I found myself casting about for a book that could satisfactorily follow on their heels. Sadly (though unsurprisingly), I didn’t find one! Instead, I’ll be anxiously awaiting the release of the trilogy’s final book, Goliath, this fall.
Do you enjoy alternate histories? What about steampunk? Are there any titles of either type you’d recommend?