This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase what is discussed. I will receive a small commission from the sale.Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, #1)
Written by James S.A. Corey
Published by Orbit
Published on June 2nd 2011
Buy on Amazon, on Book Depository, or on Barnes & Noble
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.
It’s hard to review Leviathan Wakes on its plot alone, since I’d already watched season 1 and half of season 2 of the show, and they cover the entirety of the first book. I can’t talk in terms of plot twists or anything like that, since the storyline is similar and I knew what to expect at every step of the line.
I was delighted by the same things I love on the show, mainly James Holden and the Roci crew, and the camaraderie between the characters. Give me the “friends as family” trope any day and I will be a happy reader. Especially with the chemistry between all four characters, which is just amazing. They all fit so well together and their bickering is out of this world (pun… semi-intended?) which in turns makes it so nice to follow their adventures and to want to go along on that trip with them.
And I was also annoyed by the same things than on the show. Mainly, Detective Miller. I don’t know why so many sci-fi story insist on having the residential white middle-aged asshole whose job is to snark at everyone and sigh a lot, but it’s never worked on me and it didn’t change here. Miller is boring, predictable, and a character you’ve seen a hundredth times before. His obsession with a girl 1) who is young enough to be his daughter and 1) whom he has never met before, is creepy and uncomfortable to read as a woman. Even more so when it is painted in a romantic way by the narrative. He’s textbook the kind of stalker you’d want to avoid in real life, and I’m yet to find the appeal about his character.
Regardless, I focused on Holden’s chapters the most, just for my own sanity, since the book is split between his point of view and Miller’s. And I have to say… it’s painfully obvious that The Expanse is writing by two dudes. Don’t get me wrong, it could be worse and I’m glad that The Expanse does a great job at diversity and at not being a cesspool of obvious misogyny (beside Miller’s storyline with Julie), but… But the writing style is trying so hard to be edgy in a way only nerd dudes think things are edgy. There is only so many times a girl can read about piss or what’s in a guy’s pants before it gets boring and repetitive. We get it! Your world is not all rainbows and bubblegum! Amazing! …Not.
Not to mention Leviathan Wakes is a bit (a lot) of an info dump. There is a lot of world-building going on, since the universe is so vast and complicated, but it turns into big clumps of exposition that can throw off the reader after a while. On the one hand, it was nice to get more explanation about some parts of the show I didn’t understand at first, but on the other hand there is only so many expository chapters you can read before you just want to check the book and ask it to move on with the plot.
All in all, Leviathan Wakes is a good book, especially if you fell in love with the show and want more of the universe. But it obviously has its flaws and definitely makes me feel like I was not the target audience for this book… mainly because I’m not a dude. Still a good read, though.