Leviathan because it's the first book in the Leviathan series and I've always wanted to read it. I knew going in that Leviathan was alternate history around the time of the beginning of World War I but little else. Since it was very steampunky, I enjoyed it.
The story starts off with Alek, who is supposed to be sleeping but instead holding a mock battle with his army figurines. Alek is interrupted by his fencing coach and his father's mechanik who whisk Alek off for night time practice on his walker, a 35 ton metal machine. But in reality, Alek's life is about be changed forever.
Meantime, Deryn is attempting to join the Air Service. But since Deryn is female and women are not allow to join the Air Service, Deryn dresses up as boy and becomes Dylan. Deryn loves to fly and is excited to be joining the Air Service. In fact Deryn has an unusual aptitude for handling the "beasties". Beasties are the animal-machine hybrids. The Darwinist mix animals like whales and jellyfish with machines to make airships. It's so odd but totally cool at the same time.
After reading this book, I kept saying "barking spiders", Deryn's favorite exclamation. It reminded me of Little Orphan Annie's "leaping lizards". And I did add barking to a lot of my sentences such as "These kale chips are barking delicious!" I got some odd looks.
I enjoyed Leviathan. I did realize how little I know about World War I despite reading a book last year about the war. Luckily, Westerfeld does put a little synopsis in at the end to help us history challenged folks. Plus he also explains what he changed and what remained the same. I'll be continuing this series. I can't wait to see what happens to Alek and Deryn. Others who shared their thoughts on Leviathan: The Paper Critic, Peppy Reads, and I'd So Rather Be Reading.