Alek and Deryn are on the last leg of their round-the-world quest to end World War I, reclaim Alek’s throne as prince of Austria, and finally fall in love. The first two objectives are complicated by the fact that their ship, the Leviathan, continues to detour farther away from the heart of the war (and crown). And the love thing would be a lot easier if Alek knew Deryn was a girl. (She has to pose as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service.) And if they weren’t technically enemies.
The tension thickens as the Leviathan steams toward New York City with a homicidal lunatic on board: secrets suddenly unravel, characters reappear, and nothing is at it seems in this thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s brilliant trilogy.
SPOILERS FOR GOLIATH
I”m not gonna lie – this is probably my favorite steampunk series out there. The books are fun adventure stories, featuring a dashing pair of protagonists and one of the most truly inventive uses of steampunk in the genre. Seriously, how cool are the Darwin beasties? I’d love to visit this alternate world so Iould fly around in the Leviathan and take in all the cool gadgets of both the mechanical and biological variety.
The world continues to be awesome, particularly as the Leviathan visits more and more countries, including Russia, Japan, the U.S. and Mexico. I particularly liked Japan’s take on clanker and Darwin technology and how they incorporated both Japanese and European designs and innovations (This is mostly because I’m taking a history class on the Meiji Restoration, so this feels vaguely relevant). Unfortunately, the characters never stayed in one place for long, which was disappointing, as it meant each location could have been more fleshed out than it was. I did think this was an overall detriment to the story, as part of the fun of Leviathan and Behemoth was spending so much time in specific countries.
Deryn has always been my favorite character in this series. She could have been a Tamora Pierce heroine, that’s how awesome she is. I have always loved how her attitude towards her gender isn’t one of separation or denial. She doesn’t spend her time thinking about how different she is from other girls, or how she might be “better’ because she has no interest in being a lady. Rather, Deryn knows she’s excellent at flying airbeats and that’s what she’s going to do, gender be damned. Flying is her life and isn’t worth giving up for anything. Add the fact that she’s smart, dependable in a crisis, and says some of the best swear words, she makes for one hell of a character. I also liked how Deryn felt obligated to protect Alek from harm and how even after Alek discovered Deryn’s secret, that obligation still held firm instead of shifting to Alek feeling obligated to protect Deryn. Which makes sense, considering Deryn is the natural airman and Alek… isn’t.
I felt pretty neutral towards the romantic development between Alek and Deryn, which makes sense, considering that Alek didn’t even know Deryn wasn’t really Dylan until a third of the way through this book. You’d think that would have annoyed the hell out of me, but it didn’t. I think the reason why I didn’t care is because if you remove the romantic element, the bond between the two of them doesn’t change all that much. Deryn and Alek care about each other to the extent that each of them have risked their lives and the secrets they hold to keep the other safe and their secrets intact. Even as they pronounced their love in the end, their relationship wasn’t overly suggestive of romanticism, particularly the “twu wuv” sort, and I can see that continuing to be the case in the events following Goliath. After all, Alek’s still going to be doing a lot of idiotic things that Deryn will call him a dummkopf for and Deryn’s never going to stop upsetting Alek’s sense of propriety. How can these two not remain best buds?
Actually, now that Alek’s given up any claim to the Austrian throne, I can see him and Deryn becoming partners, in every sense of the word, where they each use their own backgrounds and talents to save the world. As I’m writing this idea, this is exactly what I want to have happen! I don’t want them to get married. I want them to turn into badass, superhero partners traveling the world fighting evil with the combined forces of Clanker and Darwinism! Can this happen, Scott Westerfeld? Pretty Please?
In addition to Deryn and Alek, I loved the Perspicacious lorii (is that the correct plural form?), they’re such smart, inquisitive little creatures. Over the course of the book, they absorb more and more new words and information, which strengthens their abilities to draw connections and provide insight. The fact that Dr. Barlow genetically designed them to do this is so cool, although since she said the two on board the Leviathan were damaged in their eggs, I wonder what they were supposed to be like at full health/mental capacity.
This probably doesn’t even need to be said, but Keith Thompson’s inside artwork was as fantastic and gorgeous as ever. It was such a smart decision for Keith Thompson and Scott Westerfeld to collaberate like this. Steampunk’s as much a visual phenomenon as a literary one, perhaps even more so. The illustrations do a wonderful job showcasing that particular element.
Overall, this series was a blast to read and Goliath works as a final book. They’re the type of books anyone would have fun with, even those who don’t read steampunk, or YA for that matter. I am sad the trilogy is finished, and I predict there will be a reread in my near future.
Disclosure – library