Leviathan Review

Leviathan, Westerfeld. Yes. To start with my only substantive complaint, while Leviathan does not have the clumsiest exposition I’ve ever read, there were several rough patches. I don’t recall being as distracted by previous Westerfeld, but I fancy steampunk brings its own set of challenges (we’re at this point in history, and it splits from our history at this point, because this happened), and the writer doesn’t have the vast catalog of traditional sf shorthand to rely on. None of this excuses clumsy exposition, of course; it’s the writer’s responsibility to tell the story well.
And, by and large, Westerfeld does tell this story well. His viewpoint characters charmed me, and their adventures kept me turning the pages. I was a little disappointed that it is only the first in a series, though I could hardly have been surprised. Even as the first in a series, though, I might have wished for a more self-contained story. The end of the book was not unmitigated disapointment, however; I was pleased to find there an afterword, in which Westerfeld details which pieces of the historical framework were inventions. As one of the history-impaired, I found it very helpful, and its placement at the end keeps it from disturbing the proper unfolding of the story.