Goliath is book three in the Leviathan Series by Scott Westerfeld, and it's one of the most engaging, widely appealing books I've read, ever. In many ways it rivals Harry Potter, including the wonderful characters and the delightful world creation. I have never wanted to sail on a stinky, bilious whale as dearly as I did at the end of Goliath.
Alek is the heir to the Austrian throne, on the run since the night his parents were murdered and WWI began. Deryn is a girl masquerading as Dylan Sharp, midshipman on the Leviathan, the finest hydrogen-breathing, floating-whale airship in the sky. When Alek helped the ailing airship in book 1, it started a collaboration between two young people determined to do their parts to stop the terrible war, whether by using Clanker technology or Darwinist fabrications. They've fought battle together over land and sea, ice and blasted forest, and by book three, they're something more than best friends.
But Alek still doesn't know that Dylan is Deryn, or that through all of their adventures, Deryn has fallen in love. All Alek sees is the kind of friend he's always wanted- a capable, friendly chap that everyone trusts with their secrets. Together they must try to stop the war and secure Alek's position as heir, but Deryn's secret threatens to destroy their friendship and the future of their world.
At his workshop, David Farland suggested that authors include a broad range of ages and both sexes to appeal to a wider audience, and Westerfeld does this brilliantly. It's hard for me to think of anyone I know who reads fiction that wouldn't enjoy these books and be able to identify with the characters. (His Uglies Series, on the other hand, was targeted almost entirely at teens. Which is okay, but if you're looking for a good book with wide appeal, or want to see how to do it, read these books.)
The romance element is conveyed through tender feelings of respect and hope, nothing out of place. There is a kissing scene, nicely done, and I wouldn't have any problem letting my 8 yo read it. Some discussions on powerful, city-destroying weapons and the pros and cons of using them as well, making this recommended reading for future world leaders. And there's a war on, so expect some fighting and some death. My 10 yo has read the whole series, and he loved it, but he loves everything, so take that for what it's worth!
Goliath comes out September 20th, so look for it soon. Thanks to Around the World ARC tours for the opportunity to review this book.
Any other Leviathan fans out there? Thoughts? Happy Reading!