At last Tuesday’s Teen Book Group meeting, we discussed Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. I have to admit that I was unable to finish the book myself, much as I usually like Westerfeld’s writing, because I think I have read the maximum amount of steampunk fiction that my brain can handle and absorb. Maybe I’m just a little too old to “get” steampunk, or maybe my taste has never gone down those lines, but by half-way through Leviathan I was done – fed up – annoyed.
Luckily, all seven of the book group members who came to Tuesday’s meeting were enthusiastic about the book (whether they had been able to finish reading it or not), and the conversation was terrific. We discussed the book for an entire hour, and probably could have gone on for much longer if we’d had the time available.
All of the teens enjoyed the steampunk genre, and several of them had already read a few other steampunk books. And the ninth graders in the group had an additional attraction to the book, since it is an alternate, steampunk style version of the events leading up to and the beginning of World War I: the ninth graders had been studying WWI in school, and their test on WWI was earlier in the day on Tuesday. I was blown away by their intelligent comparison and contrast of the real history of WWI and the version presented in the book. Smart, smart kids.
And I loved hearing the enthusiasm they all felt for the steampunk style. Things that I found rather revolting and hard to visualize (like the giant genetically modified jellyfish that exhale hydrogen and thus are used as hot air balloons) greatly intrigued the members of the book group, and I was able to better appreciate certain aspects of the book after hearing their perspective.
This is such a great book group, and I really look forward to their meetings each month. And it will be sad when we bid good-bye to the ninth graders at the end of this school year – they’ll be moving on up to Lisa’s 10 – 12th grade book group – all of the ninth graders have been in my book groups for many years, and I’ll miss their insights and enthusiasm.