About the Book:

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (audiobook cover)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.

My Thoughts:

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.

Those are my thoughts. Check out Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld on GoodReads or LibraryThing, read other bloggers’ reviews, or listen to an Audible sample!

Your Turn!

Do you enjoy alternate histories? What about steampunk? Are there any titles of either type you’d recommend?

Join the Conversation


  1. Glad to hear you’re continuing to enjoy the series, Erin! Hm, I wonder if I should spare myself some agony by waiting for Goliath to come out and then reading them all.

    1. I think that’s a great idea! I don’t know what I was thinking, reading the first two before the third was out 🙂

    1. Yes, definitely have a talk with him about how nice it is to share books! Whenever you do get it back, it’ll be worth the wait. Plus, if you wait long enough, the third book might be out!

  2. I am so glad you enjoyed this one! I do like alternate history at times, and have read some really good ones in the past. But that being said, I also have read some pretty bad ones, Kim Stanley Rice, I am looking at you!

    1. It seems like alternate history is a genre that could be really terrible. I’ll have to be careful if I choose to read more of it! There must be good ones here and there, though. I suppose the trouble is finding them… 🙂

  3. I’m so glad you’re enjoying this series—Deryn Sharp is a fantastic character. I love her to pieces.

    I like the concept of alternate history—I actually have The Guns of the South, a venerable title in the subgenre, on my desk at the moment. But I’ve little experience with it.

    1. Deryn is wonderful! She’s stolen the show, as far as I’m concerned, and has Alek playing second fiddle. I, too, like the concept of alternate history but have always been a little leery of it, just because I think sometimes the execution might not be so great. Though I really have nothing to back up my assumption…so perhaps I should just try something else!

    1. I think that might be true. It did pick up sort of mid-flight, which for me (reading them back to back) felt like it was just the middle of one long story. I don’t think it would’ve sucked me in as quickly had I waited between books. I wonder what Goliath will be like?

  4. I need to check this series out. I have not yet because the description on GoodReads just doesn’t sound like something I would like but I have learned that descriptions don’t always make the book. I have read some of his other books and really liked them. have you read any of his other books?
    I think Peeps was my favorite- because the parasite stuff in alternate chapters fascinated me (and was creepy, too)

    1. The books didn’t sound like something I’d like, either, but all the positive reviews I read finally convinced me. I’ve found personal reviews tend to be a better guide for me in choosing books than the descriptions provided by publishers. I don’t know that it’s for everyone, necessarily, but I was pleasantly surprised. I haven’t read anything else by Westerfeld, but I’d definitely be up for trying some! From your description, Peeps sounds interesting…and, um, a bit creepy (parasites?)!

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