Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1)

leviathan wakes
Author: James S. A. Corey
Category: Science Fiction
Pages: 561
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2011

Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

This was a wonderful mash-up of space adventure and mystery.

The story starts out with one ship being blown up for no apparent reason. This sparks a war then more information is found out that maybe that was the goal of the ship being blown up. Every piece of information revealed seemed to widen the conspiracy a little more.

This book explores futuristic racism, the Belters v. Martians v. Earthers. All still human but altered by the effects of various degrees of gravity and what seems like it started as a sense of proud nationality (planetinality?) turns into passive aggression against those not a member of one’s homeworld. Watching things like this play out is always fascinating; humans never can seem to quite get the concept that someone that looks different than them is not less than them.

The authors also explore the concept of being totally honest at all times. When Holden’s ship, the Canterbury is blown up and he has one piece of evidence that indicates one party is responsible, he immediately broadcasts this to the public, sparking a war. As more information is discovered it turns out that he was likely incorrect in his assumptions and sparked a war for no good reason. He does this multiple times until Miller finally asks him

“Has anyone used any of the information you have broadcast as anything but an excuse to blow up someone they already didn’t like?” 

It seems morally wrong to not be completely honest. We wish that our leaders and politicians would give us all the information and, in a way, we are right in demanding to not be lied to. But there is a difference in lying to a populace and withholding information until the truth is certain and consequences have been ascertained and prepared for.

The only real complaint against this novel is how “hand-wavy” the science got at the end. Yes, the asteroid in question had a lot of crazy things going on but still…. It felt like kind of a cop out after the way such care was taken in the rest of the science in the book.

Dani’s 2¢

I had a great time reading Leviathan Wakes and am very excited to continue the series. During most of the book I felt like this was going to be a 10 (10) rating. The hand-wavy physics at the end and a little bit of dues ex machina took away from that but it was still a lot of fun to read.

That said, I am glad that I read this book before I get more experienced in the genre. I am somewhat of a sci-fi novice. I have read a few novels/series here and there but I have not read as much as I wish I have (a situation I am working to rectify). I feel like there is a lot about it that could easily be a sci-fi trope (crew of lovable misfits, aliens destroying the human race either by accident or design). This was a wonderfully enjoyable book and I am happy that I read it while I can surely appreciate it, let it be part of my introduction into “hard” science fiction.

It seems kind of unfair to say this about a book. “I liked it but in the way one likes a well-done tutorial.” But there it is. Maybe I will be wrong and this will remain one of the more wonderful books I read.

Rating:

8-really liked it

Greg’s Thoughts

Leviathan Awakes came out of nowhere for me! I don’t read too many sci-fi adventures and this one hit me good! The characters are all fun and have depth to them. In the beginning of the book Holden’s view felt like a space adventure while Miller’s felt like a 1950’s mystery novel. When they finally met it all became a space adventure but that was fine. I liked that both main characters had flaws and they caused problems on their adventure. Without spoilers, the ending felt kind easy to me, the bad guy was stopped and surprised me it worked out in the end. Overall a great book and I am excited to read the rest of this fun space adventure!

Rating:

9-loved it!

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