Leviathan Wakes: Book 1 of the Expanse Paperback – 2 Jun 2011
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It's been too long since we've had a really kickass space opera. LEVIATHAN WAKES is interplanetary adventure the way it ought to be written, the kind of SF that made me fall in love with the genre way back when, seasoned with a dollop of horror and a dash of noir. Jimmy Corey writes with the energy of a brash newcomer and the polish of a seasoned pro. So where's the second book? (George R. R. Martin)
"Corey... has created a refreshingly blue-collar tale, with well-drawn characters and a compelling narrative sweep. Roll on Book Two." FINANCIAL TIMES
The start of the Expanse series - a fast-paced and thoroughly gripping new space adventure.See all Product description
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A classic tale at the heart of it, a small, motley and eclectic crew who may hold the fate of the universe in their hands, face off against varying powers, battles galore, with plenty of richly layered characters all set against the backdrop of a beautifully imagined future world.
A heady mix of space opera, drama, horror and science fiction, Leviathan Wakes drowns your senses, messes with your heart rate, keeps you up at night and has a disturbingly relentless feel to the more horrifying moments. All this whilst attaching you to the characters in an emotional way that makes you crazy when the bad things inevitably happen.
I adored it – I don’t think I’ve read a book this long in such a short time ever – that cliche about not being able to put it down was almost literally true in this case.
Fantastic writing, clever, intelligent plotting and a visceral, visual feel to it that digs deep, Leviathan Wakes is one of my favourite reads ever. No messing.
Bring on Caliban’s War is what I say.
Part of the problem was Miller's crime noir plot. The problem is that if you've read one noir plot, you've read them all. His plot was predictable, unoriginal and I found it hard to care about someone who cared so little about themselves. A world-weary alcoholic cop obsessed with a beautiful missing girl he hopes to rescue (and hopes she will rescue him) is an over-used cliche (why does the girl always have to be beautiful, would he not care if she was ugly?). Miller was best when he had someone else to bounce off, alone he was just too miserable. Also the obsession over Julia was really weird, the ending tried to make it sound noble, but it was just creepy.
Holden was better, especially as he had a crew to interact with, but these characters never got much depth to them. The world-building was similarly shallow and half-hearted, there was no nuance or shades to political struggle. Making Earth one unified blob without any diversity of opinion or action just seemed lazy. Making cities/stations where everything is dreary and decadent gets repetitive and dull. The villain was cartoonishly evil and just lazy. There were also a few holes in the plot and timeline.
However, what really made this a 3 star book was the ending. Without spoiling anything, throwing alien/zombie/hivemind/extermination was really out of place and didn't work well at all. By the end it got so absurd that I couldn't take it seriously. Even the characters comment on how bizarre it was and how it resembled magic, which is a bad sign (if you're writing hard sci-fi things have to make at least some sense). A lot of mystery novels put so much work into building the mystery that when the final reveal comes it's anti-climatic and that's how the ending felt to this.
The writing is solid, the characterisation compelling, and tight plotting moves the story along at pace. The denouement, in particular, was both surprising and deeply satisfying.
Finally, Corey brilliantly balances the world-building and the introduction complex moral, philosophical, and metaphysical ideas without ever detracting from the plot.
All in all, I highly recommend Leviathan Wakes as superior science fiction. I look forward to reading the next instalment.
James S A Corey's universe is somewhat less technologically advanced than these, with no wormholes, FTL drives or AIs (at least, not so far) and therefore the story-line is constrained to our solar system, which is mapped out in more detail than I've seen for a while; not a bad thing, just different. We're also given more of a feel for some of the grittier (likely) realities of life in both space-ships and colonies.
No super-heroes here, the significant central characters are less-than-perfect and consequently more interesting. I won't attempt a plot synopsis, as I'm sure someone else will have already done so anyway, but suffice it to say that the title of the book offers no clue and you'll never be able to see what's coming more than a few pages ahead. It starts a little slowly, perhaps, but once it gets going, it's almost impossible to put down.
Thoroughly enjoyable, and I ordered the 2nd one in the series just as soon as I finished the first.