Leviathan *****by Scott Westerfeld
illustrations by Keith Thompson
Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.
While Leviathan may be hard to categorize, it's a great example of a different type of science fiction - one that doesn't meet anyone's definition. Westerfeld's creation is strange and wondrous while being filled with war and danger. Deryn, the middy hiding her gender, doesn't let her deception hinder her (or her storyline); she takes risks with her get-it-done attitude, but she does so intelligently, making her one of the best crewmen on the Leviathan. Alek is a prince who has been looked down on most of his life, makes many blunders, and has little confidence, and yet he proves to be both skilled and able with a heart for people. These outside-the-box characters fit excellently with an outside-the-box story.