By: James S. A. Corey
James Holden is the first lieutenant of the Canterbury, an interstellar ice hauler that helps supply the main water supply for the Belt. While on a routine mission from Saturn, the crew receives a distress signal from an unknown ship named the Scopuli. Assuming the mission is a clear-cut rescue, Holden and his team of misfits arrive to help. However, what they find will alter the lives of every human in the scattered colonies of the solar system.
Josephus Miller is an alcoholic detective from the bustling Belter colony of Ceres. After receiving a contract to kidnap a young Earther woman, Miller learns that the fragile peace between Mars, Earth, and the Belt is about to come to a crushing end. And someone is trying to keep it a secret.
What is one woman compared to the entire human race? For Miller, everything. He’s convinced her disappearance is connected to the conflict that threatens to end civilization, and he won’t rest until he finds her. Dead or Alive.
I want to begin this review with a tiny blurb about the author…or rather authors. James S. A. Corey is actually a pen name for Daniel Abraham, an established fantasy author, and Ty Franck, George R. R. Martin’s assistant. Martin himself endorsed this novel, and I can see why. This novel is fantastic & definitely a sci-fi odyssey that a Game of Thrones reader like myself would enjoy.
I say sci-fi even though there are definitely horror and noir elements embedded in the book. The blending of genres was tastefully rendered, and I was pleased by that given how difficult a task like that can be for a writer (or writers).
The story was unique in that usually science fiction is about the far future where humanity has already left the solar system in search of a great adventure in the unknown of space. Leviathan Wakes was entirely different in that way because this story is about humanity’s first steps to colonize the solar system. There is no FTL travel, physics still has one hell of an impact on the human body when traveling at 6 G’s, and growing up in reduced gravity changes a person’s physiology. Those details are believable.
There are 3 district cultures in this novel as well: the people who grew up on Earth, those from Mars, and the outcasts of the Belt. The class divide mechanism is so plausible it almost hurts. This story takes place in a future I’m convinced can and probably will happen (aside from the horror elements…maybe). I can’t say that most books inspire that kind of confidence.
I appreciated the originality of the story, though there were some elements I didn’t like. Not going to spoil any of the plot points. That would be rude, but I will tell you that the parts I liked greatly outweighed those I didn’t.
The story is told between the perspectives of Holden and Miller who are characters with very distinct personalities. I favored Miller’s perspective as I found his thought process and arc more interesting, but Holden is still a likable character. The ethical dichotomy of the two is enhanced by the back-and-forth of perspectives. The main trait of Holden I disliked is his narrow-minded nature and of Miller was his fixation of Julie, the woman he is tasked with kidnapping.
The characters are raw but in different ways. The authors excel at writing to elicit emotion. I felt pain as the characters did, especially emotional and social pain. The lulls in the plot come and go, but the suspense and cliffhangers at the end of each chapter are enough to keep readers engaged.
I give this book two thumbs up.
Overall rating: 4.5
P. S. I highly recommend this book to sci-fi nerds or someone looking to get into the genre. But please for the love of all that is good, don’t watch the TV show. It gets pretty much everything wrong and made me rage a bit. Couldn’t even finish it, I was so mad. Just saying.