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Leviathan  By  cover art

Leviathan

By: Scott Westerfeld
Narrated by: Alan Cumming
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Publisher's Summary

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. The Leviathan is a living airship, the most formidable airbeast in the skies of Europe.

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.

©2009 Scott Westerfeld (P)2009 SImon & Schuster

What listeners say about Leviathan

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    1,492
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    839
  • 3 Stars
    370
  • 2 Stars
    99
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    46
Performance
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Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    1,232
  • 4 Stars
    723
  • 3 Stars
    340
  • 2 Stars
    92
  • 1 Stars
    50

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderful, but don't forget to buy the book

Alan Cumming does an excellent job of narrating and I quickly fell in love with the characters. However, it wasn't until I bought the book as a present for a friend that I realized how much I'd missed--the illustrations in the hard copy are simply breathtaking in their detail and of course, you don't get them with the audiobook. I highly recommend listening to the book, but if you love it as much as I did, don't forget to buy the book as well.

52 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding Narration

Most of the reviews talk about how outstanding the story is, and I agree wholeheartedly. I didn't know about the steampunk genre when I picked this up, and it is an excellent introduction. And I want to say that the last I learned about WWI was in ninth grade (more than 15 years ago) but I still knew what was historical fact and what was made up.

But I thought proper tribute needed to be made to Alan Cumming, the narrator. For the most part I use audiobooks as a way to pass the time. I work with words, so I prefer to see them. But this story was significantly enhanced by having it read to me by a European man. I hate to admit it, but it is because I am from the United States and not well traveled - that's why I love books. I don't know how accurately Cumming is doing these different accents (Austrian, various Brittish and I can only assume that Russian will come later) but they are a hella lot better than I could do them on my own head if I were reading the novel. He even gets the differences between the common Brittsh and "posh" Brittish.

I will say this about the author's work. As I said, I work with words myself, so I find the slang of the mid-shipman protagonist highly entertaining. Is that true Brittish slang of the time or did the author make that up as well? I don't know, but I love it. "Barking spiders!" and a "rattled attic," all without uttering what we would consider profanity today, which we all know sailors are prone to doing.

Two masters of their craft come together to create a truely imaginative work. HIGHLY recommended.

43 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An unexpected pleasure

From time to time I do enjoy a "young adult" listen (particularly the excellent City of Ember series, as well as His Dark Materials) but generally I don't expect too much in terms of story, setting, and character. Here is another fine exception to that expectation. "Leviathan" was amazingly brought to life here by Cumming, as we follow the stories of Aleks (a prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, on the run for his life) and Deryn (daughter to a ballooner, she enlists in the British Air Services as a boy in disguise) at the outbreak of The Great War as set in a wonderfully detailed and re-imagined alternate history, where "Clankers" (steam-powered mechs) power the German forces, and crossbred animals (tiger-wolf hybrids to pull carriages, amazing engineered jellyfish and whale airships) are the basis of the "Darwinist" forces of England.

All in all a thoroughly satisfying listen which I enjoyed immensely.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Positively Addictive.

Whether or not you are a fan of steampunk, this book is a windfall. (If you were a fan, this book would surely be a *must*.) Loosely based on fact, spruced-up by Westerfeld's dynamo imagination, the examination of a WWI-era Europe full of huge, complex machines whipped up by German engineering, and artfully bizarre 'Darwinist' creations in England will hypnotise you. Considering the further into this book you go, the better the characterization and the plot grows (not to mention the more fascinating the Leviathan becomes), I have extremely high hopes for a follow-up Audible book in this series. It's a fun five-star reading!

Special props to Alan Cumming's Austrian accent and to Westerfeld for speaking for himself in the afterward (it's great to hear from you)!

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

entertaining

Though a young adult novel, Leviathan is one of the most fun books I've read in a while. Its alternate universe version of Europe on the eve of World War One imagines the major powers equipped with cool steampunk technology. The British and their allies have fantastical genetically-engineered creatures, such as living airships, on their side, while the pickelhaube-clad Germans clank about (naturally) in giant, armored walkers. Such concepts have been done in fiction before, but Westerfeld creates a thoroughly enjoyable world, filled with likable characters, drama, wit, sci-fi speculation, and some real history. It's written on a level accessible (and appropriate) to middle school-aged kids, but I think many adults will like it just as much. Can't wait for the sequel! PS. If you get the audio version, be sure to check out the grotesquely cool map of Europe on Westerfeld's web site.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Pleasurable, likeable, and really good.

I came upon this book just a the right time for me. I had just finished two long books, one that was silly and a little boring and one that was really good, but very serious.

This is easy listening. The characters are in there early teens, determined but naive. They have not yet been ruined by adults. You have the Clangers, who are a steampunk society and one of the lead characters is a clanger and then you have the Darwinist and one of the main characters is a Darwinist.

The Clangers are basically mechanically inclined who built walking battleships and all things mechanical. Everything the Darwinist have are living. The make fabricated animals as there battleships and a variety of other things. Each side thinks the other side is disgusting.

I love all thing biological. West of Eden by Harry Harrison is one of my favorite books. It is not available in audible, but you can get Neal Asher's The Skinner, which if full of all types of biological monstrosities. Also Dawn by Anne McCaffrey.

The same night I finished the book they had a piece on the news about scientist today who are growing body parts outside the body.

The book is well written just over 8 hours long and fun. I will be getting the rest in the series.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Fantastic adventure

This was my first Scott Westerfeld book. I was a bit worried about getting into a kids book, even though all the reviews said it was a good adult book as well.

And, indeed - it's funny & intelligent, and although the characters are young they don't act like bratty little kids.

I loved the world that is invented with the beasties and cray walking machines. The adult characters are a little flat in comparison to Deryn and Alek, and sometimes seem to behave in crazy ways just to drive the plot, but those are are minor complaints. You will be drawn into the story and barely notice.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

terrific

This is a wonderfully fun story in a deeply imaginative world with engaging characters. But I agree with the other reviewers who say that it is the narration that makes this a truly excellent audiobook. Alan Cumming is a genius... his expressive reading and facility with accents gives the characters depth and consistency. This first book in the series is a little slow getting started-- but only b/c it is laying the groundwork for a longer series. By the end of the book (which I'd originally downloaded to entertain a teenaged friend), I rushed to download the sequel, and now am waiting with baited breath for the 3rd book.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Barking Crickets!

Where does Leviathan rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Great story! Scott Westerfield writes really wonderful characters who carry everything.

What did you like best about this story?

The plot was nice but a bit simple. So I liked the world he invented (all the beasties!) and the characters the best. The dialog is hilarious!!

Did Alan Cumming do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Yes :)

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Oh yeah, and then I bought the next two in the trilogy!!

Any additional comments?

Barking delightful

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Clankers and Darwinists on the move, oh my!

I took a chance on this and by the end I was having a great time! I’m another one who picked this up during a $4.95 sale, and I’ll definitely be getting the following books.

This is chocked full of action and steampunky details! The two main characters begin their adventures on opposing sides of the onset of an alternate World War I. Both become immediately embroiled in the brewing conflict -- steampunk style of course! But this isn’t just about dry battles. The characters are likeable and things move at a quick pace. There was one section about a third of the way through where things felt a little mired down in mechanical details, but that’s about my only complaint. I really liked how the author set up two separate steampunk cultures to go with the opposing sides of the war. It works very well in the context of the story.

This is the first book in a young adult trilogy, but still a lot of fun for an adult. I’m a woman in my 30’s and really enjoyed it. The narrator juggled a host of European accents very well, and his performance added a lot to the experience! The story comes to a reasonable stopping point even though it’s part of a series. You can see where things are headed in the next book, but won’t be left dangling with a cliffhanger.

5 people found this helpful