“Most people don't realize how important librarians are. I ran across a book recently which suggested that the peace and prosperity of a culture was solely related to how many librarians it contained. Possibly a slight overstatement. But a culture that doesn't value its librarians doesn't value ideas and without ideas, well, where are we?”
Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I finally met Scott Westerfeld!





Scott Westerfeld


I am a HUGE Scott Westerfeld fan. I first read one of Scott’s books during my Young Adult class while at Pitt. I had Uglies on my “to read” list but was excited when it was actually assigned as homework for class. I do have to admit that when I initially saw the title to the book, Uglies sort of threw me for a loop. Let’s admit it; one has to wonder a bit what a book entitled “Uglies” would have of value for young adults. Alas, when I picked up the book and opened it’s cover, I discovered the beginning of a dystopia that is one of the most thought provoking, well-written series I’ve read to date. Scott’s characters are strong, emotional, and complex. They draw you in and lead you through his stories making you crave more. They are books you can sink your teeth into -- books for thinkers.

Once I finished the Uglies series, I went on to read other Westerfeld books including So Yesterday and Peeps. I loved both of them as well, so when Leviathan came out, I was definitely in for buying it. Unfortunately, I was in my last stretch of grad school and didn’t get a chance to read Leviathan until the release of Behemoth. I was lucky enough, however, to meet Scott on the release date for Behemoth.

Scott is a fantastic speaker. He has so much to add to the background behind his writing, the history, the research, the writing process, and the visuals he uses in creating a book. In the Leviathan series, Scott has moved in a different direction toward a genre called steam punk. He has created an “alternate history.” What if history were affected by changes in science and technology? What if events were different? He also uses illustration. As a librarian and a U of D grad with a minor in fine arts, I have a real appreciation for the reappearance of illustration in books. For all of those that think books will disappear and become digital, it is the graphic artists and illustrators that will save us from the plight by bringing visual art back into literature. Don’t get me wrong, e-books have their place. But I also like my hardbound BOOKS.

The storyline in Leviathan then continued in Behemoth is completely different from anything else Scott has written and every bit as compelling. Deryn Sharp, a young girl, dresses as a boy to serve in the British Navy. Young Prince Alek is on the run and under disguise from his own people. The Clankers are at war against the Darwinists and the time period is just around just around WWI. This is an alternative history of epic proportions and right on level for bright middle school kids all the way up through adults. There will be a third book in the series out next year and I’m sure it will be just as good as the first two!

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