Goliath begins right where Behemoth left off: World War I rages on across Europe and Asia. It's Clankers vs. Darwinists in this revisionist version of the Great War. Aleksander, the heir to the Austrian throne, has just helped lead a revolution in Turkey and is back on the British airship Leviathan with his best pal, Dylan Sharp. By now, Dylan's secret- that he is, in fact, Deryn Sharp, a girl in disguise- is no longer quite so secret. People seem to be finding out or figuring it out left and right. But as long as the crew of the Leviathan doesn't know, Deryn is fairly certain she can stay on and continue to fly, which has always been her dream. It's when Alek finds out she's not who she says she is and worse, that she's in love with him, that things get a bit wonky.
In the meantime, the Leviathan is on a mission to Siberia to rescue the brilliant scientist Nicolas Tesla, who claims to have built a weapon so powerful that merely showing it to the world will stop the war. Anxious for peace, Alek falls in beside Mr. Tesla, against the better judgement of his advisors and friends. Alek feels that ending this war is his destiny, his great legacy, and no one can talk him out of going along with Tesla's plans. What Alek refuses to acknowledge is that Tesla is a bit of a madman, and his motives may not be as peaceful as Alek thinks.
As the Leviathan crisscrosses the world from Tokyo to Mexico to New York, Alek and Deryn meet a host of historical figures: Tesla, William Randolph Hearst, even Pancho Villa. How far will Tesla go with his weapon Goliath? Is he, and in turn, is Alek, willing to raze an entire city to show the weapon's power? And how can Alek, a royal heir fall for Deryn, a commoner?
Goliath is a fit ending to Westerfeld's action-packed series. The plot zooms along, as was the case with the first two books, though the characters take more time for quiet contemplation in Goliath than in the previous volumes. His descriptions of air battles and the inner workings of the Leviathan are phenomenal. When Deryn and Alek fight to stay atop the airbeast in a driving rainstorm, the tension is palpable. The final battle scene along Long Island Sound leaves the reader breathless as the Clanker water walkers clash with Mr. Tesla's "ultimate weapon." Keith Thompson's gorgeous illustrations put the reader right in the center of the action, too. As far as characterization, it is Alek who is really in the spotlight in Goliath. Deryn's presence is crucial, but in this book, she's more the girl waiting for her prince while Alek wrestles with his destiny. For those who loved Leviathan and Behemoth, as I did, Goliath does not disappoint. Boys may snicker at the awkward romance, but Westerfeld doesn't dwell on the kissing for too long. There's plenty of swashbuckling, steampunk-tough combat for all. 560 pages
Reviewed by: Stacy Nockowitz, Librarian, Ohio, USA