Behemoth: Leviathan Trilogy, Book 2



Sci-fi stand-out with high adventure, great characters.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The afterward separates what is historical fact -- such as the warship that Winston Churchill denied the Ottomans and the German ironclads that were gifted to the Ottoman navy -- and what is science fiction -- like the Telsa cannon, though the name is based on a real inventor. Readers may want to look up more about the Ottoman Empire, the Orient Express, and just how strong Turkish coffee really is. They should also try saying "perspicacious loris" 10 times, fast.

Positive messages

Bravery, diplomacy, cooperation, understanding, and risking everything to avoid the loss of life in wartime are major themes here.

Positive role models

Deryn is incredibly brave and always looking out for her friends, but doesn't trust her friends with the fact that she's really a midshipwoman. Alek is forced to leave his mentor Count Volger behind in the beginning of the book and then has to become the leader to his men. He chooses his own path even though he knows the Count won't approve, but it's meant to save other lives than just his own.


Plenty of nail-biting escapes, captures, and near-misses. Ships are attacked by lightning and a hungry giant beast. Both Alek and Deryn are shot at and chased by German soldiers and giant walkers. The best weapon, though, is a less violent one: spices in the eyes to keep people from fighting.


One kiss, meant to be funny, not romantic. Deryn is upset with herself for liking Alek despite the danger it puts her in. Discussions of how Deryn hides the fact that she's a woman with careful tailoring.


Deryn swears like a sailor, but an old-timey one, so readers will only see expressions like "barking spiders!" and "blisters!" and  the German word "Dummkopf," meaning "ninny."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Turkish coffee is a bigger draw than alcohol in Istanbul, but there are still a few mentions of booze. Deryn steals a bottle of brandy from the Orient Express to sell for food.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this second book in the Leviathan Trilogy contains the same style of action as the first book with violence apparent (ships' crews are lost, main characters are shot at in nail-biting chase scenes) but never gory or excessive; It's actually rather mild for a young adult sci-fi adventure. Main characters are heroic and admirable and readers will learn a bit about the start of World War I -- to separate fact from science fiction see the author's Afterward.

What's the story?

On the Leviathan air ship's approach to Istanbul, Count Volger and Prince Alek know that they need to make their escape in case anyone ever figures out Alek's secret. They're caught in the act and Volger fends off their pursuers, leaving Alek to lead his men (and a furry Darwinist stowaway) out of the Ottoman Empire and into hiding. But Alek has other ideas. He wants to help stop the Ottomans from entering World War I and joins up with a band of revolutionaries. Meanwhile, Deryn heads to the Sultan's palace with the lady boffin on a diplomatic mission that goes horribly wrong. The Germans already nearly control Istanbul, and the Leviathan will be lucky to leave the city in one hydrogen-breathing piece.

Is it any good?


Definitely read the first book first -- you need to, in order to follow this fast-paced, convoluted story. That sets up the Leviathan's Middle Eastern stopover full of escapes, near-misses, giant weapons, Clanker machine chases, and even a stowaway ride on the Orient Express.

The pace occasionally slows for alliances to be made and broken and secret messages to be delivered, but those moments have touches of whimsy, like when the Darwinist creature Alek adopts keeps repeating "Mr. Sharp" and laughing. That also makes the wait for Deryn to finally tell Alek she's really a girl a little less tiresome.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the blend of fact and fiction here. Were you ever confused about what was real and what wasn't? Why do you think the author decided to write the book this way?

  • This is the second book in a series (the first book was Leviathan).  What is fun about reading a series? What do you think is fun about writing one? Why would a publisher be interested in printing a series?

Book details

Author:Scott Westerfeld
Illustrator:Keith Thompson
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon Pulse
Publication date:October 5, 2010
Number of pages:496
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Read aloud:12
Read alone:12

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Kid, 11 years old February 8, 2011

Great Sequel!!!

I loved this! An awesome sequel to Leviathan, Behemoth is funny, fast-paced, and cleverly, if not well, written. The characters are all very brave and strong. Deryn continues her masquerade as a boy, but is found out by at least two people. I found it disappointing, however that she still won't tell Alek because she doesn't trust him enough. This was, to me, a serious character flaw of hers. Besides this Deryn is brave, strong, loyal, and clever, doing everything in her power to help her friends and country. Alek is bright and loyal and works hard to save his companions. Behemoth is set in an alternate WWI and has many facts buried into the story. The overall message is of loyalty and friendship, and seems to imply that between friends there should be trust- definitely more than Deryn has for Alek. The story is intended so that both boys and girls will enjoy it, but seems to be written in a style aimed at boys.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byskwished3 January 5, 2011

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love it a lot. Historically based and all. It's not SCI-FI! It is something much better called STEAMPUNK.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 14 year old Written byKathyintexas January 4, 2011

Great for Middle School kids

Make sure and read the first book "Leviathan" before this book. It's great!


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