This dual narrative follows Alex, the heir to the Austrian throne and Deryn a would be pilot who has disguised herself as a boy to join the airforce. She is certainly a kick ass female protagonist, someone who would do anything to achieve her dreams. I'm a bit torn about the 'just kidding, I'm really *just* a girl' storyline. Surely in an alternate history we could have alternate gender roles?
Both characters are thrown together by accident on the Leviathan, a combination whale/ zepplin aircraft. Some of the most creative blending of science and machinery are in the descriptions of this craft.
The design of this book is particularly attractive. The symbolic inside cover map denotes the countries' political allies. There are also beautiful illustrations throughout.
The open ending is a little frustrating, and apparently the next installment is not due until October 2010. Westerfield has certainly turned me onto steampunk. I'm keen for further recommendations if you have any ideas.