Thursday, August 7, 2014

Goliath (Leviathan # 3)

by Scott Westerfeld with illustrations by Keith Thompson

(September 20th, 2011, Simon Pulse)

Book Description: 

After helping Turkey with its revolution, Deryn and Alek are once again on board the Leviathan, their destination a military secret. A surprising detour in Siberia, however, brings a mysterious new passenger aboard – one who claims to have a weapon so powerful that it can level entire cities. As the Leviathan heads farther east, to Japan, Mexico, and finally, America, Alek and Deryn must find a way to stop this weapon from falling into the wrong hands and maybe, end this war.


Goliath is the perfect conclusion to the Leviathan trilogy, and a real delight for those of us who have stuck with it this long. It’s tightly-plotted, with some outstanding action sequences that really keep the pages turning. Although there is no clear-cut antagonist this time around either, the addition of the inventor Nikola Tesla to the plot is intriguing and the concept of the weapon Goliath impeccably builds upon similar weapons throughout the series. The author’s ability to demonstrate its horrific effects early on both ups the ante in terms of the stakes and helps maintain a tangible sense of suspense all the way to the end. The bureaucracy, messiness, and sometimes, inhumanity inherent to war is plausibly captured which is a great change from previous books. 

The relationship between Alek and Deryn is just great. The conflict between them early in the book is complex enough to be interesting but never resorts to melodrama. And because it’s based on real shared experience as opposed to the superficiality and flightiness that’s endemic in YA novels, it feels earned and realistic.

One thing I was especially pleased with the much more measured treatment of death in Goliath, especially when compared to Behemoth. It’s refreshing to see the characters finally reacting more realistically to the horror of war. This obviously helps smooth out a lot of the character inconsistencies that were present in the previous book, making the characters more likeable than previously. 
In spite of less description, the many locations Leviathan visits in Goliath are more fully-realized that Istanbul was in the preceding volume. They seem alternately exotic and familiar, but are always interesting and colorful and make excellent backdrops for the action taking place. The terrific monochromatic pencil illustrations really help the setting come to life and are detailed enough to give the reader a mental image of hard-to-imagine beasties and weapons. 
The ending is bittersweet and unexpected, but ultimately satisfying and really proves that a seemingly small action – at least in comparison to the war as a whole – can really tip the scales.


The action sequences can lag somewhat because of over-description, and the plot still seems quite episodic. There are also parts of the book that suffer from a lack of a clear-cut road forward.


A very welcome return to form, Goliath brings more action, more heart, and more depth than previous books in the series, and is a brilliant close to adventures of Alek and Deryn abroad the Leviathan.  

Rating: (8/10)

Get it on Book Depository

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