Review: Leviathan Wakes

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Today’s read is way out in left field for me: James S. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes.  The first in a series, this sci-fi novel may not be on your radar.

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. (Goodreads)

I’m pleasantly surprised to give Leviathan Wakes five out of five stars.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: I don’t read science fiction typically. I’ve watched a few SyFy shows, but I’m not a sci-fi reader. Sure, there are the dystopian novels, the far into the future novels, but not true science fiction.  But this. Is. Excellent.

One of the categories in my 2016 Reading Challenge was “a book recommended by your significant other.”  L had read and really enjoyed this book, and his recommendation to me was spot-on.  First of all, the prose is excellent, if slightly Tolkeinesque in its descriptions at times.  But what made it so appealing to me as a non-science fiction reader was that it’s accessible.  The completely unrealistic technology and lifestyles that I had previously associated with the genre are not present in this book; it is as realistic as science fiction can be.  Everything is explained, no small technological advance taken advantage of.  The characters are in zero gravity? They’re able to walk easily thanks to magnetic boots.  They’re traveling at high speed? Sickness ensues.  I loved the realism.

What really gets me, though, is the story. Part drama, part action, part detective story, part conspiracy thriller? Count me in.  There’s also that little edge of horror that makes science fiction uncomfortable, and for once, I liked it.  The book is a bit slow to start, but if you can get through the first thirty pages, you’ll be hooked.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that SyFy has adapted this novel and the others in its series into a tv show called The Expanse which actually does it justice. By all means, watch the show – but read the first book before you do.

So, who is this book for?  This book is for people who like science fiction. People who want to try something different. People who just like really well-written stories.  Essentially, if you’re willing to take a chance on it, you’ll probably like it. Happy reading!

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