Monday, January 2, 2012

Leviathan Wakes

Title: Leviathan Wakes
Author: James S.A. Corey
Series: The Expanse, book 1
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: 2011

Recommendation: A decent space opera, but not outstanding.
Rating: 7/10

Summary: Detective Miller is a seasoned cop working on Ceres. He gets assigned to find and return the daughter of a wealthy family who ran away from home. Following the leads, Miller ends up in the middle of the war between planets. Jim Holden becomes a survivor of a water-hauler Canterbury with a small crew when they are attacked by unmarked vessels. This act of aggression begins a war that Holden will be in the middle of.

Reactions: I have been seeing this title pop-up in a lot of places, but didn't pay too much attention until I saw it on sale for Kindle for $2.99. Since I just got a Kindle Touch for Christmas, that seemed like a perfect opportunity to try out both the device and the book.

The book received a number of positive reviews in the blogosphere, but I probably would have avoided it if I had first read a review that mentions the fact that the book involves vomit zombies. I am really not a big fan of horror, but zombies in particular tend to put me off. Still, zombies in Leviathan Wakes weren't too bad since they arrived pretty late in the story and weren't too prominent.

Most of the book is spent switching between the stories of Miller and Holden. The two men are pretty different, but both are tough types prone to going on risky adventures. Miller is a character taken straight from noir detective fiction, while Holden is something like Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly, but without the witty banter. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Firefly acted as somewhat of an inspiration for Holden's ship. There's an amazing pilot who is not hardened to violence, the strong-female XO, a mechanic whose penchant for women and drink strongly reminds me of Jayne.

Unfortunately, the book doesn't have the brilliant dialogue of Firefly and while the personal character stories were interesting, I found my interest in the plot flagging somewhat midway through the book. I felt the book ended up being drawn out a little too long and would be much more appealing if it was 200-pages shorter.

Altogether, as it says on the cover, the book involves lots of kicking ass and lots of space opera. There are politics and there are battles and there are crazy unbelievable maneuvers. I think some readers may find the book more fun than I did and for those who like space operas I would recommend it to them. However, I felt overall the book lacked something to make it outstanding and I finished it with a sense of dissatisfaction. Not dissatisfaction with the plot conclusion, but with the overall impact of the book. 


  1. I'm sorry the book didn't click with you like it has with some of the other folks who have been talking it up. I've seen a pretty steady stream of praise for it though I've also caught plenty of reviews where, like you, people found stuff to like but wanted a bit more.

    I picked up a copy before Christmas and hope to at least get started on it sometime this month. Per usual I am a little reluctant to start it just because of its size. But I'm planning to read it with a friend which will help in the motivation department.

  2. Yes, I have seen it mentioned in a lot of Top lists this year and it baffles me a little bit. But only a little bit, I can see that if you really clicked with the characters, the book would be much better. I was amused, because after I posted my review, I saw a different review also comparing the book to Firefly, except that they thought the witty banter WAS there! So clearly, it's just depends on how much you connected with the book. I hope you really like it.

  3. I really do too, although you never can tell until you get in and try something. No matter if I do like it I am already predisposed to thinking it is too big of a book, especially for one that is just part of a longer series.

    Have you read any of Alastair Reynolds? I read his novel, Chasm City, a few years ago and loved it, and it was touted as space opera, which is a subgenre that I enjoy. I had such a good experience with that book that I find myself wanting to compare anything else similarly classified to it, which is probably unfair.

  4. I have heard of him, but has never tried any of his books. I am feeling a bit burned out on space opera right now, but I think I will give him a try next time I am feeling the space travel :)