Have you ever found a book that you physically couldn’t stop reading? Those are the best. Nothing in life matters until you’ve gobbled up every last page. Obviously I read a lot of books, but I don’t always find something that I simply can’t put down. Recently, though, I managed to find two that I utterly devoured.
First up was Behemoth, the second book in Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy. This is Westerfeld’s steampunk retelling of World War I, and I was already hooked after Leviathan – Behemoth just gave me more of what I wanted. More crazy beasts, more machines, more alternate views of history. And, most compelling for me at least, more of a love story. At this point in the series Deryn is still keeping up her facade as a male airshipman, and while it’s starting to crumble around other characters – Count Volger, a girl from Istanbul, and Dr. Barlow’s new critter the perspicacious loris – Alec is still utterly clueless. This makes the love story rather one-sided, but it also has me anxiously flipping through the pages to figure out when the big reveal will come. The setting is great, and the overarching story is fascinating, but even with that what Westerfeld does best is characters. I love all of them, not just Deryn and Alek, is what pulled me through this book, and got me to run out and buy Goliath as soon as I could.
And have I mentioned how intensely detailed the art is? I have to keep myself from flipping ahead to each picture lest I spoil myself:
Another book I read over the weekend is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. We can add this onto a list of books I probably should have read a long time ago. I picked this up on a combination of a passing recommendation from my mentor, and also because I’m reading Orson Scott Card’s craft book on character, so I thought it might be nice to actually read a story he’d written. This book is wordy and a little intense at times, but I managed to pack it away in about three days. As with Westerfeld, I’m going to lay the reasoning for this with the characters. Though there are some (violent) fights, and there is some action going on with the war games in the battle school, a lot of the story really takes place within Ender’s head as he deals with a load of crap: being a Third (families normally have only two children due to overpopulation); his jealous, psychotic brother; being forced into isolation; his jealous, psychotic classmates; and finally, knowing that he’s the best, and that all of humanity is depending on him to defeat the alien “buggers” before they come back and destroy Earth. One of the things that I find most touching about Ender is that he has a complete lack of desire to hurt people, but he is constantly and purposely put in situations where he must harm others, and sometimes even kill, all because his teachers know that this will turn him into the person who can save them. This is what made me love Ender, that he has to keep winning, fighting, and hurting to stay alive and get better, but he hates himself for it because he thinks he can’t help being a killer, even when everyone else knows that he’s just a gentle soul.
I’ve already gotten the sequel to both of these books. Now the big question is: which do I read first?