Weigh the Alternatives

Started my summer reading with the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld. Calling this series inventive would be an understatement. The creations of both factions, Clankers and Darwinists, are fascinating, as is the alternate history. The illustrations by Keith Thompson are a great addition, although I will be disappointed if I don’t get to see more of the Russian Bear in the third book. Goliath comes out at the end of August, so I will be ending my summer reading with the same series that started it.

While waiting for the third book in this series I read the first book in Westerfeld’s popular Uglies series. I didn’t find the Uglies vs. Pretties alternative quite as entertaining as the Clankers vs. Darwinists alternative, but the dilemma “At what cost beauty?” is certainly worth examining.

If beauty is truth
And surgery the fountain of youth…

What am I to do?
Have I got the gifts to get me through
The gates of that mansion?

U2, “The Playboy Mansion”

I probably shouldn’t have combined reading the two series together, however, as some of the similarities – the boy who shares his big secret with the girl who is pretending to be someone she isn’t, using concentrated spices as an escape method – bothered me a bit. I don’t know if that is Westerfeld’s calling card, but it seemed to detract from his otherwise original writing.

I find it interesting that the Leviathan, a sea creature by tradition, becomes an airship, while the Behemoth, a land creature, becomes a sea monster. I wonder if the Ziz, a creature of the air, will become a land dweller (perhaps the Russian Bear?) in Goliath?

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