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I'm immortally interested in cultural/literary deconstructions, feminism, anti-racism, South Korea, Supernatural, Sherlock Holmes, Hayao Miyazaki, Diana Wynne Jones, food (including but not limited to maple butter, tomatoes, and toast), fairy tales, parentheses, paper airplanes, films and books.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Borvil's Behemoth (Mild Spoilers)

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead.*

Behemoth was everything a sequel should be in my opinion: different in all aspects. Location wise, character wise and conflict wise. There wasn't much conflict in Leviathan other than Alek, who couldn't be caught, and the Leviathan's getaway. Behemoth is soaked in it, on the other hand, and the location made the experience all the better.

Set in early twentieth century Istanbul, as Westerfield mentioned in the author's note, unlike in real world history, the revolution was unsuccessful the first time around leaving the sultan's position still intact by the time the First World War came around. Changing that little bit of history was such a great decision; having this whole mess take place in a city that's rife with anarchists and German controllers wouldn't have been half as fun. The uncertainty (regarding the revolution and such) of the city ensured that the readers see that it's rich with so many customs and cultures that even with instability and invaders its multicultural traditions are left virtually untouched. I think that's what gave this book just one star just because. It's not just the culture of those living in Istanbul but I also learned some fabulous German. Who knew you didn't need a glossary to understand it?

I've read some reviews on Goodreads that say that they disliked the fact that Westerfield introduced this other character into the mix. I say, hurray! More conflict! It was particularly funny after Alek's certain revelation about said character towards Deryn and its ending, which made me squeal with delight as I read by the pool. Alek and Deryn's relationship grows a little deeper in this book as well as Alek tells her the last of his secrets and Deryn starts to feeling the beginning pangs of angsty guilty about her own little secret. I was really hoping though that she would tell him. There was this one moment (which Deryn agreed with me afterwards) in which I was hoping against hope that she would tell him but then ... Sigh. We can't always get what we want.

The pacing was excellent in this book. With every little thing that was wrapped up, a bigger problem presented itself. That kept me on edge the whole time I was reading and the ending blew me away. It's going to be angst fodder now that right after Deryn's fully accepts the fact that she's in love with the little prince, she hears how Alek will never ever marry a commoner and give his children the same fate the marriage of his parents gave him. And then the punches just keep coming! My mouth literally dropped at the penultimate page. It was the last thing I expected to happen. But I was placated by the hope that Alek and Deryn's journey might end in Japan. It's the Taisho period! Who doesn't want to see princely Alek tripping over his kimono? Though I have little doubt that Deryn will be doing the same.

The third book in the series, Goliath, comes out September 20 2011. Want. So. Badly. I also confess to stalk Scott Westerfield's blog in comfort that I'm not the only one doing so.

All in all=☆☆☆☆☆

*Summary taken from Goodreads.

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