It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.
Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way...taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.
I thought that I would like this book more than I did. I thought that it would rock my world, and it didn't. It was really good, and I enjoyed it, but that was it. The plot was really fun and different, which I found thoroughly delightful. I really loved how Westerfield wove mechanical possibilities with advanced genetic engineering in a believable (ish) version of the past. I was particularly intrigued by the Darwinist because I'm a huge science person. The problem that I had was with the main characters. I couldn't connect with them very well at all. It wasn't that they were annoying, or had some other blatantly obvious flaw. The issue resided not with the writing either, for Westerfield was on point with the prose. There was just some disconnect somewhere that left me feeling a little cold. I had begun to warm by the very end of the book to both of them, I think in part due to their relationship with one another. Together they were much more compelling than they were separately. Overall this was a fun start to an interesting new series. It wasn't quite as amazing as I had expected, but it wasn't bad. This might also resonate better with younger teen boys, as it has lots of action without lots of romance.