Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
The Expanse series #1
View book info on GoodReads
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
First Published: June 2011
Read from: Jun 22 to July 3, 2014
Awards: Nominated for 2012 Hugo Awards for Best Novel and the 2012 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction
“Leviathan Wakes” My Appetite For Cool Space Opera
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Leviathan Wakes on the whole was a VERY entertaining bit of space opera science fiction, with some tantalizing bits of “hard sci-fi”, “horror”, “detective story” & “military sci-fi” thrown in. The book is the first in the highly acclaimed Expanse series, written by James S.A. Corey – a pen name for the collaboration of Albuquerque, New Mexico authors Ty Franck & Daniel Abraham, the last of which also is known to work closely with George R.R. Martin. The SyFy channel has also ordered a TV mini-series based on Leviathan Wakes and other novels of the Expanse series… Going from experience with recent SyFy channel productions though I don’t expect much from that.
Back to the novel review… The story starts with a prologue from the point of view of Julie Mao, the victim of an apparent piracy & hostage taking incident in space. The brief look at this character revealed just enough of a bizarre mystery to immediately “hook” me into the story. The entire rest of the novel is told from the point of view of two main characters, switching back & forth between them:
- Jim Holden – a former Earth space Navy officer, who is now second in command of a small “Belter” ice mining ship. Holden is the boy scout hero type, whose devotion to rules and honor often gets him and those who follow him in trouble. Despite this, his likable nature and the fact that he usually manages to get them out of all the craziness he gets them into, endears him to his crew.
- Josephus Miller – a Belter born on the asteroid Ceres, he works as a detective for the corporation with the contract for that asteroid’s security & police force. Recently divorced, the world-weary gumshoe and his ever-present pork pie hat has been on a long downhill slide fueled by cynicism, alcohol and a never-ending thankless job.
Initially I found the split POV of this novel a little difficult. Just as you were getting used to one character’s “voice” and the aspects of that character’s future world, you would be shunted over to the other character. Initially the two characters and their stories are separated in location and are pursuing apparently different mysteries. At heart however both characters stories involve increasing tensions & hostilities between the solar systems political powers: an Earth Mars Coalition, an Outer System Alliance, and a large number of powerful corporations with interests in both the “inner” & “outer” planets. As the story progresses tensions rise, violence escalates and all out war seems inevitable. At this point the action really picks up and mystery after mystery begins to unfold. The two characters’ stories begin to draw together and merge for a while, letting you literally see some plot points from the two different points of view. Until finally the two points of view diverge again leading to unique resolutions for each character.
Despite what I have read some have said of Leviathan Wakes, the novel does have a very climatic ending, but it is true that it also manages to set up a future for its universe that demands you read the sequels to find out more, simply because you have become so enthralled by the novel’s “universe”. I guess the best review I can give this exciting book and its authors is that I plan on reading more of this series very soon.
And now for some very cool a/o well-written quotes. These do not spoil any major plot points, but I do not attest to them being completely spoiler-free so click the Show button and read on at your own risk.
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