For those of you who read the blog regularly, you are probably aware that I am currently obsessed with steampunk. Don’t worry if you don’t know what steampunk is—you’ve probably read steampunk or have seen a movie that is steampunk without even knowing it. The simplest explanation comes from G.D. Falksen’s description from his post, Steampunk 101 over at tor.com: “In three short words, steampunk is Victorian science fiction.”
That being said, let’s get familiar with some steampunk on Book Clubs. One of the newest books in the genre can be found in September’s TAB and TeenRC: Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan. I was a reader of steampunk prior to reading this, but afterwards I became enthralled. Leviathan is a riveting retelling of World War I that follows Alek, the son of the assassinated archduke, and Deryn, a girl dressed up as a boy in order to be in the army. Alex is part of the Clankers, which are also the Axis powers, and Deryn is part of the Darwinists, which are part of the Allied powers. The Clankers believe in and use steam-powered machines, while the Darwinists believe in and use evolved fabricated beasts. Alek and Deryn are both thrown together after the sides go to war. But, if they are to survive, they both have secrets that they must protect. Check out the awesomely amazing book trailer:
The main thing I took away after reading this book was: Wow! This book is so smart. It can teach kids about World War I in an engaging and fun way. The illustrations throughout the novel enhance Westerfeld’s terrific prose and provide vivid images of the great creatures and machines he has created in this world. The illustrations also provide a great point of reference for a novice in the steampunk genre.
Steampunk has always been somewhat of an underground niche genre and I personally believe that Leviathan is a book that can bring this genre to the forefront for young readers. Westerfeld does a masterful job—not only telling an exciting narrative, but also introducing steampunk to young readers in a fun and engaging way. The illustrations add that nice extra touch that makes Leviathan accessible to kids, teachers, and parents who might not be familiar with the genre.
If you haven’t read Leviathan, I highly recommend it. It is one of the best books I have read in the last two years and is perfect for boys and girls grades 5–up. Scott Westerefeld’s Uglies series is also available in September’s TAB and TeenRC clubs as well!
Here is a list of books and movies that have steampunk elements that you may already be familiar with:
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
9 (animated movie, PG-13)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (PG)
Wild Wild West (PG-13)
Do your kids/students read steampunk? Do you use any steampunk novels in the classroom? We’d love to hear about it.