This is second book in the Leviathan series. I thought Leviathan was good with potential. Whether or not I continued with this series would depend on the second novel. I will be reading third book. I couldn't put Behemoth down. Loved it.
In this series Westerfeld looks at an alternate reality for WWI. There are two different ways of life. There are the Darwinsts who use animals and their evolution for everything from air travel to weapons. Then there are the Clankers, who use man made machines from air travel to weapons. The two sides have such opposing views on how things should be done, causing conflict.
Alek, though only a teenage is still next in line to be the ruler of Austria Hungary -(Clankers). Dylan, a girl is pertending to be a boy named Deryn. Dylan/Deryn is a midshapman on English (Darwinsts) airship the Leviathan. Alek and his men were allowed to board the Leviathan, after helping it get back in the air. Though with the impending war they are soon considered prisoners.
Behemoth picks up where Leviathan left off . This time everything takes place in the city of Istanbul, the capital of Ottoman Empire. Alek must figure out away to get allies to fight the Germans and escape the Leviathan. Deryn must serve the honor of the Leviathan while at the same time helping Alek, a new friend.
Alek is really starting to grow on me. In Leviathan, he was simply a rich prince. Now Alek understands what's at stake and is better able to help since he is no longer sheltered. I liked Dylan from the beginning. Though when Dylan and Alek first meet, I was very worried she would spend too much time crushing on Alek. In Behemoth, Dylan still likes Alek, but the author doesn't go overboard with it. Dylan's storyline is well developed, independent of Alek's.
I love how author embraces diversity in the world he's placed his characters in, and with his secondary characters.
"We split off from those cretins years ago. They think that only Turks are true Ottomans. But as you can see, the Committee takes in all kinds." He gestured at the other two men. "My friends are Vlachs, I am Armenian, and we have Kurds, Arabs and Jews among us. And plenty of Turks of course."
There were many strategies elements of war, including strange allies, mistrust, deception and honor. Behemoth was so well done, I loved it. Its one of my favorites of 2010.