Author: James S.A. Corey
Series: book one of The Expanse
Publisher: Orbit Books
Publication Date: 15 June, 2011
Leviathan Wakes on The Book Depository
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
I think LEVIATHAN WAKES, in which an ice miner and a cop become entangled in the same wide-reaching conspiracy, will be a hit with most SF fans. It’s meaty stuff, chock full of topical musings on political expediency, the role of law enforcement and the nature of humanity.
Personally, I was most interested in the setting and its impact on the plot. LEVIATHAN WAKES takes place solely within our solar system--not something I’d seen before (though I’m admittedly still an SF newbie). This renders it a firmly human story that nonetheless asks us to question our concept of humanity. Corey1 establishes a clear divide between those born in the far reaches of the solar system and those who were raised on Earth. The two groups have different social and cultural values, as one would expect, but there are also physiological differences that lead to racist assumptions on both sides. Corey does an excellent job of exploring how and why this plays out in his future galaxy.
He accomplishes this, at least in part, by giving us two protagonists with different perspectives on the issue. Holden, the ice miner, is from Earth. Miller, the cop, is from farther out. They approach the issue from their own unique angles, and neither one is fully right or fully wrong. Corey does an excellent job of showing us how each character arrived at his stance, and how his position is both logical and out of step with the bigger picture. In the end, there are no right answers; there's only the position each character's experiences have led him to adopt.
So it’s a rich, complex book, full of social issues and realistically flawed characters. It skillfully blends science fiction, crime fiction and horror. I’m sure it’ll make many of you very, very happy. I've already talked to a number of people on Twitter who I know will love the hell out of this book. For the right reader, this story is a godsend.
Alas, I was not the right reader.
I enjoyed the opening very much, but Corey lost me sometime in the second half. My interest waned. I’ve struggled to articulate why but I think, for me, the book was just too long. I would’ve happily spent somewhere in the region of 400 pages exploring this situation, but LEVIATHAN WAKES is nearly 600 pages. It demanded more of an investment than I was able to make.
I ought to mention, though, that I read it while I was coping with the BEA plague2. My illness may very well have coloured my reaction. I really do believe, too, that it’ll appeal to tons of other science fiction fans. The positive reviews are already pouring in--and my dears, they are very positive. I encourage you to check out the "Other Reviews" section below for some of them.
2.5 stars – didn’t quite work for me
Everyone’s older than me, at least. I do love it when everyone’s older than me.
Everybody Needs A Little Romance
Fantasy Book Critic
Grasping For the Wind
Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
I feel like I missed some. If yours was one of them, please let me know so I can link to it.
Back In the Day:
- One Year Ago: nada
- Two Years Ago: The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld
- Corey is actually two people: Daniel Abraham, who is one of my must-read authors, and Ty Franck, who's new to me; however, I’ll refer to them as a single entity because that’s how they’ve presented themselves.
- A lot of people got sick near the end of Book Expo America. I got it really, really bad. It took me about two weeks to mostly recover, and I’m still not doing as well as I could be.