Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey is the first book in his Expanse series. By all definition, Leviathan Wakes is a space opera. You will be spending a lot of time in space and space travelling. In all fairness, this is exactly what I wanted. The characters themselves, while not the most interesting, generates enough interest for me to see this story through to its ending. The story is what I have a slight problem with. I’ve always said that fantasy and science fiction authors have it easy because they can literally come up and write just about anything and still make it stick because well, its a fantasy! Here in Leviathan Wakes, I was a bit disappointed with the “grand scheme” of things and what the author chose for his “kick in the face” surprise element to his readers.
Leviathan Wakes actually starts off very interestingly and captivated my attention immediately. It was off to a good start for sure. We are thrown into the eyes of Julie Mao where she is basically held captive in her ship along with her shipmates by an anonymous group. She manages to survive in a locker for weeks but soon discovers that a terrible thing has happened to everyone that she knew on her ship with hardly any signs of her attackers. From then on, we kick off into the main portion of Leviathan Wake. Throughout the book, we alternate chapters reading from the point of view of two characters, Holden and Miller. Holden becomes the commander of his small crew due to some unfortunate accident and Miller is a detective on planet Ceres. Like I mentioned earlier, them two characters are not the most interesting but they don’t really do anything out of the ordinary to make the readers hate them as well.
The backdrop of Leviathan Wakes is decent. It’s the usual of man makes spacecraft to explore the outer planets and soon enough, colonies spread between the planets which leads to space travel and exploration etc, etc. There are the tensions between the various factions (yes, this is space opera) which composes of the Earth and Mars coalition and the “Belters”. The main issue with Leviathan Wakes in my opinion is the cliche and rehash of the main “issue” at hand. I honestly expected something much more creative from the author. The other thing I really don’t like about Miller as a character and this is a personal quirk of mine is how he visualizes and keeps a certain character in his conscious even though he has never met that person before. I usually don’t like it when authors do this because it just feels like a cheap tactic to bond some characters together. Action wise, Leviathan Wakes does just enough to keep your interest. It’s nothing mind blowing though. The author gives us a little bit of space and ground battles both so neither one feels too overwhelming.
All in all, I feel that Leviathan Wakes is a very average space opera. It’s these type of books that makes it so hard for me when deciding if I should continue on with the series. Currently, it doesn’t justify me quickly getting the next book in the series and devouring it just yet. I can’t shake the feeling that things will be better as the story rolls on. At 600 pages, Leviathan Wakes is definitely no small book and the next one is equally similar in size as well. Leviathan Wakes is definitely what many to be true “space opera” and for that I agree. It might not be as hardcore as other space novels but it’s a good introduction to the genre in my opinion if you are new to this.