When we last left our fair heroes, Deryn and Alek, they had helped the revolution against the Ottoman Empire succeed and prevented it from entering the Great War. Now the crew of the Leviathan is headed for Siberia, to pick up some unusual cargo: inventor Nikola Tesla, who claims that his invention, Goliath, can bring the Great War to an end, once and for all.
Of course, there’s still the problem of Deryn being a girl and Alek thinking she’s a boy, and that she’s in love with him and he’s a prince and she’s a commoner. So, of course, there will be stickiness when he finds out.
Like the previous two books, Goliath is many things all at once: action-packed, filled with battle scenes and daring escapes and cool contraptions; gorgeous, with Keith Thompson’s art elegantly complementing Westerfeld’s words. I have to admit flipping through the book to look at the pictures, just so I can see them before reading the words so I can figure out what the heck is going on. It’s a bit of a love story this time around as well, and even though Westerfeld doesn’t have the swoon-worthy prose of, say, Maureen Johnson, he does fairly well keeping a balance between Deryn and Alek’s friendship and their budding love. (Though I have to admit here that one of my favorite characters was Alek’s perspicacious loris, Bovril. He is awesome.)
It has a wider scope than the previous two books, as the Leviathan circumnavigates the world, going from Siberia to Japan to California through Mexico to New York. It’s almost as if Westerfeld felt that he couldn’t leave any part of his new steampunk world untouched. It kind of felt forced, though I do get the historical implications; he was, after all, just following the path that the actual World War I took.
Even with that criticism, it was wonderful to see how the story of Deryn — who is really one of those awesome, cool, capable heroines you just have to cheer for! — and Alek — who has really grown on me over the trilogy — comes to a good end.
And you can’t ask for more than that.
Rated: Mild for violence.