This fantasy/historical fiction title by Scott Westerfeld is quite fascinating! Aleksander Ferdinand is the son of a Duke in Austria, amid the tension of threats of war. Suddenly, his father is assassinated and he is thrust into the world of war. Deryn Sharp takes desperate measures to get into the Darwinist army. Her most threatening secret: Deryn is a girl. The Clankers and Darwinists take sides against each other, pitting fabricated animals against brutal machines. Among all this, the living airship Leviathan encounters Alek and his troupe, who are running from those who want to quietly dispatch the heir to the Duke's example of peace.
Plot: 4 stars - The "Mulan" idea was somewhat of a story cliche.
Characters: 4 stars - They showed much emotion, but I couldn't relate to them as well as I would like.
Engagement of reader: 5 stars - The author explained a lot about each of the fabricated animals and machines in so few words, that it both gave you a mastery of each of their worlds, and did not bore you at all.