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A Reader of Fictions: Learn to Fly - Foo Fighters

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, October 18, 2010

Learn to Fly - Foo Fighters

Leviathan, Book 1

Author: Scott Westerfeld
Genre: steampunk
Audiobook Narrated By: (the incomparable) Alan Cumming
Discs: 7

Brief Summary:
Alec, son of the assassinated Franz Ferdinand and wife Sophie, escapes with his father's most loyal servants in a walker, a two-legged, mechanical war machine. Although he is not recognized as an heir to the Habsburg empire by his uncle, the Emperor, he still represents a major pawn as the powers of the world go to war in 1914. Meanwhile, Deryn Sharp, a fifteen year old girl, dresses up as a boy and lies about her age to join the British air forces. Britain flies fabricated animals (created through the blending of species, a science begun after the revelation of Darwin's theories) and aligns with the other Darwinist nations against the 'Clankers,' who use machinery (Germany, Austria Hungary, the Ottoman Empire. Deryn and Alec's paths lead them to the same place and to similar short-term goals as World War I erupts into full force around them.

Normally, I steer clear of audiobooks, considering them just a step above not reading at all. For the most part, I think of them as cheating; listening to a book just isn't the same as reading one. I put aside my admittedly unfair assumptions for the Leviathan audiobook when I heard that Alan Cumming narrated it. Alan Cumming is one of the most delightful actors in my opinion and I could just not resist. I listened to the book on my drive up to my alma mater for a friend's wedding.

First, I cannot stress enough the love I have for Alan Cumming. He is an entirely spectacular narrator, as I expected he would be. He does the voices (with accents!) for the characters. As in the second X-Men movie, he does a great German accent and he is, of course, British, so he can do that too. His female voices are a bit lacking, but there are only two in the whole book and one is pretending to be a boy. Besides, no one's perfect. And his attempts at sounding female are pretty hilarious. His pacing is great and he conveys emotions perfectly.

Now, for the story itself, I can say that I enjoyed Leviathan far more than I did the other Westerfeld books I have read (the Uglies trilogy). His language either annoyed me less in audiobook format or was kept under wraps by the historical setting. The book was incredibly fun. Westerfeld did really interesting things in his reimagining of the war, changing some background seriously, but still causing everything to happen much the way it did. The Darwinist versus Clanker version of World War I makes me laugh and is, in its framework, easy to believe. Those alliance make more sense than the real version. I also found the idea that Darwin's discoveries led to so much scientific development totally awesome.

I flipped through the book itself and am sad to have missed out on the neat artwork. Still worth it for Alan Cumming though. Check this book out! It's totally worth either a read or a listen. The sequel, Behemoth, just came out.

"Fly along with me, I can't quite make it alone
Try to make this life my own"

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Blogger Unknown said...

I feel the same way you do about audio books. I have always had a hard time with them. I gave in when it came to the Harry Potter books after I heard they were so amazing on CD. I wasn't disappointed, but I have yet to try another type of audio book. Maybe I'll give this one a whirl...I like Alan Cumming as well.

October 25, 2010 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Please do. Alan Cumming is just the best. He has convinced me to try select audiobooks: those with fantabulous narrators.

October 30, 2010 at 2:50 PM  
Blogger Kali Skittles said...

I don't know if I could listen to an audibook, I feel sort of the same way as you. I always just feel like if an audiobook is 2+ hours, I could probably just read the book in that time. And since I've yet to go on any long distance drives, I've no real need.

I really want to read this, and I was actually going to buy it the other day but it lost out to Blood Red Road. It'll probably be the next book I buy though, since I was already so close before! ;)

April 6, 2012 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

They're totally great to read, too. I read, rather than listened to, the other two books in the series. With reading, you can admire the illustrations.

I agree that audiobooks take forever. It's a lot faster to just read the book. It was nice for a road trip, though!

April 6, 2012 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Bea Tejano said...

I always fall asleep when I try to listen to audiobooks LOL I got this as a prize from a giveaway and I'm excited to read it! I absolutely adored his Uglies series so I'm looking forward to this:)

January 1, 2013 at 11:41 AM  

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