Book Review: Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

This book was a beast. A big, beautiful beast of science fiction that’s equal parts hard sci-fi, horror, and film noir.

Humanity has advanced itself technologically with the creation of the Epstein Drive, engines that make starships capable of traveling across our solar system for fun and profit – especially profit. Set in a future time where Mars has not only been colonized, it was terraformed and boasts the system’s most advanced military, it turns out the old vices – greed, crime, and violence – are still highly representative of mankind’s interstellar interests.

The novel is the opening entry in a massive narrative universe and focuses specifically on two seemingly unimportant men. Holden is a dishonorably discharged Navy officer turned hired hand on an ice mining vessel, and Miller is a world weary detective stationed in Ceres, a colony situated in the Belt, the asteroid belt past Mars. Both men are connected by the sudden and mysterious destruction of Holden’s ship the Canterbury and it’s relation to Miller’s case involving a runaway socialite. Their actions will put them in the middle of a simmer conflict between the Mars military, Earth’s navy, and the fringe OPA people’s movement that’s gobbling up followers in the Belt. It’s a powder keg situation that threatens to explode when a strange biological agent enters the mix.

I read the ebook version of this from my library and it’s a whopping 800 pages. There’s a lot going on here but the nice thing is that the action always moves forward. The authors, writing under a pseudonym, do a great job of weaving science and political history within the narrative without putting the brakes on the narrative. Still, the book feels especially long during the well deserved quiet moments.

Now, in regards to the SyFy adaption action of the novel. The first season of The Expanse is what brought me to the novel. I really enjoyed the show (Tom Jane!) and am stoked for the second season. That said, I like the characterization a featured in the novel in the book than the show. Whereas everyone on the Canterbury seemed to have an axe to grind with each other, the Holden, Naomi, Alex, and Amos (I love Amos!) had better camaraderie. Also, the whole subplot in the series involving the Earth UN was completely nonexistent, which makes me wonder if that stuff shows up in other books.

Leviathan Wakes was a good sci-fi despite its almost bloated length. Great characters, good science, and intriguing political ramifications made this a fascinating read!

Suggested soundtrack pairings: Interstellar by Hans Zimmer, Mass Effect by Jack Wall, Dead Space 2 by Jason Graves

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