Monday, September 26, 2016

MMGM: Behemoth

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick
Behemoth, second in the Leviathan Series,
 by Scott Westerfeld, art by Keith Thompson

Written by Scott Westerfeld
Illustrated by Keith Thompson
Simon Pulse, 2010
Ages 12 and up
542 pages, 86,700 words

Steampunk, WWI,

       Alek raised his sword. "En garde, sir!"
       Deryn hefted her own weapon, studying Alek's pose. His feet were splayed at right angles, his left arm sticking out behind like the handle of a teacup. His fencing armor made him look like a walking quilt. Even with his sword pointed right at her, he looked barking silly.

I loved the first book in this series. Of course, I love authors who spin history and mix anachronisms, imagining an alternate future. The Leviathan series explores an alternate WWI timeline. This world throws genetics and automatons into the mix. What's not to love?

Scott Westerfeld has proved himself as a writer who tackles dialogue, quirks, fantasy elements, and action with equal skill. His automatons lumber through a landscape as real as our own. His characters breathe. His action scenes keep us turning pages, gripping the edges of our books.

The plot of Behemoth meanders a bit more than the first book, but if I didn't have Leviathan to compare it to, I'm sure I'd find it less so. I also think the tension between main characters was stronger in the first book. Their growing friendship makes them more alike and somewhat more predictable. The re-envisioned Istanbul is certainly a fascinating setting, but I don't think it can compare with first book which introduces an entirely reimagined world. None of those things diminish Behemoth by itself. Only in comparison to the first book. And when was the last time you loved the second book in a series better than the first? (Chamber of Secrets? Point Blanc? Enna Burning? Prince Caspian? Empire Strikes Back? I didn't think so.)
So read it. Love it. Dive into the third book.


Leviathan, book 1
1. Not familiar with this series? Start with the first book in the trilogy, Leviathan.

2. Already a fan? Tor books features an interview with author Scott Westerfeld and another with illustrator Keith Thompson. Airship Ambassador also interviewed the author.

3. Intrigued by this genre? Chronicles of Harriet gives a thorough overview of steampunk and all its subgenres (because technically, Leviathan falls into the category of Dieselpunk). The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences focuses on steampunk in the Victorian era. Lastly, Booklist Reader gives a few middle grade suggestions which fall into this category.
4. If you love alternate history, you might like The Clockwork Three or The Lost Kingdom, by Matthew Kirby , cover art by Brian Despain and Owen Richardson, respectively. Or try one of my favorites, Kronos Chronicles, Book 1: Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski or Mysteries of Cove, Fires of Invention, by J. Scott Savage, illustrated by Brandon Dorman.

Reviewed by Brooke
Reviewed by Jess

Reviewed by Kim
Reviewed by Greg

Reviewed by Shannon
And because you asked for it...I've added Impyrium to the list.
Thanks for the suggestion, Greg and Shannon.

If you want to join MMGM, blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday. You can post a straight review or contests, author interviews, etc. Then email Shannon Messenger at

Put "MMGM" or "Marvelous Middle Grade Monday" in the subject line, include the title of the book you're featuring, and a link to your blog. Email your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.

For additional details, see Shannon's website.

Check out all the recommended titles for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
for September 26, 2016 available on Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.

Feel free to leave your MG recommendations in the comments. Thanks!


  1. I've heard of the series but have yet to start it. Too many books piled up but some day I'll find the time. A new one coming out soon in this genre is IMPYRIUM.

    1. Ooo, thanks. Added Impyrium to my list. Love trying new authors. Have you read Henry Neff's other books?

  2. Oh, yes, I'm a HUGE fan of these books! I didn't like the second or third as much as the first one either but that's a minor complaint. These are terrific reads!

    1. I couldn't believe I'd waited so long to read them. Got my husband and teens hooked right away; my middle grader is busy with Harry Potter right now. I highly recommend the audiobook versions, too. Thanks.

  3. My son loved this series!
    I would echo Greg's tip about IMPYRIUM. Henry Neff is one of my favorite MG authors--in fact, I reviewed Impyrium today for MMGM. :)

    1. Sorry. I was on my way to read the other reviews, but slow internet day!

  4. I haven't read any of Scott Westerfeld's books, but I've heard a lot about them. I'll have to add these to my TBR list!

    1. I'm reading Uglies now, not because I am interested in the concept, but on the strength of his writing. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. I'm not sure I've ever read books with alternate histories. The series sounds intriguing -- something you could lose yourself in. Wish these were around when I was a kid.

    1. Last week I recommended Patricia Wrede's Frontier series starting with Thirteenth Child. That also explores alternate history. The frontier is populated with mastodons, the course of slavery was changed, and of course, there's a little magic thrown in. It's fascinating.

  6. I've been wanting to read this series. This one sounds particularly good with the alternative Istanbul setting. My husband enjoyed Leviathan, and I love the alternative history of Jasper Fforde. Will definitely be checking these out!

    1. Oh my goodness. Jasper Fforde seems like a lunatic. I'll definitely have to check out his work. Thanks. And my advice, drop everything and read the first few chapters of Leviathan. I bet you'll make time to read the rest. That's what happened to me.

  7. This isn't quite my cup of tea, but it's good to know about. Thanks for the review.

    1. It's not for everyone, but I find it enthralling for many reluctant readers. Thanks for coming by.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!