Goliath by Scott Westerfeld. I’m not sure how I feel about this book. I don’t love it the way I did Leviathan or Behemoth, but it was fun to read. I’m going to sound pretty negative below, but I really did like the book. It just disappointed me with the ending, which felt abrupt and a little dues ex machina.
I really love Deryn and Alex as characters. They’re believable and brave and enjoyable to follow through their adventures. Their arguments and eventual romance felt real and honest. So no complaints there.
But their problems, the very real issue of a prince loving a commoner and Deryn’s disguise as a girl in the military were solved almost too quickly and easily. I suspect I was hoping for Deryn to reveal herself and for the feminist movement to advance at a much quicker pace. And I’m not sure I bought Alex simply throwing away his birthright. I think he would have been much more aware of the fact that the people back in Austria were holding him up as a folk hero and been more careful of that. Plus, it was the last real thing he had of his parents. It felt out of character.
I liked the different ways WWI was going, with the Ottoman Empire not joining the war and the way the US got involved much earlier, and how those things probably changed the course of the war. The thing is, for a book focused on alternate WWI history, I sort of wish we’d seen the end of the war itself and not been left hanging. I suppose it depends on what you want the focus of the book to be. I had assumed it was the adventures of these two people through alternate history, this book made it to be the adventures of these two people with a backdrop of alternate history. The first is interesting to me, the second is less so. And I feel cheated, because the first two books really seemed to be the first, where as this one ended up being the second. Ending the books still at the start of WWI sort of highlights that effect.
The new countries in this book; Japan, The US, Mexico and Russia were all so briefly mentioned that there was no real in depth exploration of how those countries have changed. For example I would have loved to see more of the blended countries, like Japan and The US, where clankers and dawrinists create together side by side. We’ve seen the clanker world of the Ottoman Empire and the ship of Leviathan certainly gave us the world of the dawrinists, but our brief view of Japan was so small that there was no real exploring of how the two could be put together.
Or perhaps some time spent on the downsides of darwinism, as a pseudo clanker world we already know the downsides of a technology dependant on oil, but we have no idea the issues involved in altering genetic code. For example perhaps some time spent in Russia as their huge bears start to run amok and hungry, the brief glimpse we got of that was barely enough to hint at the dangers of messing with natural selection.
So I sort of felt the book skipped from location to location offering just brief hints of what the rest of the world is like. And that is a very different feel from the exploration of Leviathan and Behemoth.
I felt like this book was rushed, as though Westerfeld realized he only had one more book left to come to his conclusion and he had a few points he wanted to hit along the way and so he did them.
It was a good read, but I found it to be an unsatisfying conclusion to the trilogy.