My introduction to Scott Westerfeld came through receiving a free copy of Leviathan one Christmas. I discovered that it was part one of a trilogy and went about getting the other two books first, before starting to read it. The covers of these books immediately drew me in and I was intrigued by the steampunk theme that seemed to be portrayed there. As well as the Leviathan books, Westerfeld is probably best known for his very popular Uglies series, but there is much more to him than these two series.
A Texan by birth, Westerfeld now spends most of his time between Sydney, Australia and New York City. He is the author of more than twenty books, and is fast becoming one of the most popular young adult/science fiction writers of our day. As well as the two series I mentioned, he has written a number of other series – Succession, Midnighters, and Peeps – as well as a few stand alone novels.
I haven’t read everything that Westerfeld has written yet, but what I like most about what I have read is that each series is so different from the last. I think this brings a freshness to his work and makes the reader want to come back for more. At some point I will definitely get around to reading most of his books, because the one I have read have been so enjoyable and hard to put down.
Of the books I have read so far, I think I have enjoyed the Leviathan series the most. As I said earlier, I was intrigued by the whole steampunk thing and that is what made me want to read this series first. This series is set in an alternative version of World War I, where the German ‘Clankers’ are pitted against the British ‘Darwinists’. What we have is an empire of mechanised war machinery fighting against an empire of genetically fabricated living machines. The two main characters throughout the series are youngsters from either side, one a female commoner disguised as a boy, the other a young prince. As the series develops these two are forced to work together and it is interesting to see where everything ends up. I’ll say no more in case you haven’t read these books yet. The whole idea of an alternative steampunk World War I is almost enough to make the books worth reading, but the strong characters also make it a worthwhile series to read.
I also read the Midnighters trilogy and it was totally different from the Leviathan series, but was still very enjoyable. The ‘midnighters’ are people born at midnight who have the ability to live in what is known as the ‘Blue Time’, where everything around them stands still for one hour every day at midnight. Each of these people also have some kind of specific super power. But there are also some dangerous creatures known as ‘darklings’ and ‘slithers’ who are also able to function during the ‘Blue Time’. What ensues over the course of the three books is a story of discovery for a group of young ‘midnighters’, as well as an unfolding story of good versus evil. It is another very enjoyable series worth reading.
I haven’t read any of the other books yet, but I would like to move on to the Succession series next, which consists of two books set in an undefined distant future (although it is implied to exist roughly 5000 years from now), in which there is a galactic empire spanning eighty worlds, amongst other human civilizations. I don’t know much about the plot, but again it looks so different from the other series. I would also like to read the Uglies series, which my daughter has already read and recommended to me. We also have most of the other books on our shelves and I intend to get around to reading them some time.
If you haven’t tried anything by Westerfeld yet, I’d heartily recommend any of the books I’ve mentioned here. I think with the variety of series available there must be something for everyone. I also think that there must be a few good series left in him yet, and I look forward with great anticipation to whatever he writes and publishes next.