A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
For kids who love fantasy and adventure
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