Review: Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes is the only science fiction novel I’ve read this year (definitely going to change that for 2017) and it was an entertaining read, though not without faults. This book was actually adapted into a series on Syfy called The Expanse, which I haven't watched.

Some minor spoilers are below.  


Leviathan Wakes, written by two men under the pen name of James S. A. Corey, took place in the future where humans have the technology to travel between and live on the different planets in our solar system.

Jim Holden, the Executive Officer of an ice miner, and his crew intercepted an emergency signal from the Scopuli, resulting in the loss of Holden's ship and most of his crew. Holden broadcasted the event, starting interplanetary tension as the solar system began pointing fingers. Holden and his remaining crew started tense negotiations for freedom once they realized that every government was looking to shut them up.

Detective Miller, assigned to find a missing girl named Julie Mao, traced her to the Scopuli and realized that Julie was part of a huge conspiracy that he and Holden were now drawn into as well. The two met after Holden’s team commandeered a Martian ship and they saw evidence of Earth’s hidden agenda on the Eros station, where an alien molecule was released among the people there. Along with Fred Johnson, who was the leader of the Outer Planets Alliance, Miller and Holden worked to stop the threat to their worlds even with the odds stacked incredibly high against them.

My Thoughts:

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was going on 600 pages but read quickly. Leviathan Wakes did lose a lot of steam after the first two hundred pages; up until that point the action was fairly intense. Then, the politics kicked in. I generally love that when it’s done well, but this time it was a bit of a drag.

I liked the fact that this was an age where humans were still limited to travel within the solar system. So many books and movies show spaceships just zipping all over the galaxy with minimal time lost and I appreciated the technological limitations this one presented. Humans were still very new to space exploration and had yet to fully interact with another species. It also presented an interesting question with race/class/ethnicity in this universe from the Earth vs. Mars vs. Belter politics. All three groups of people treated each other badly - especially Earth - and it made me wonder when people are ever going to just get along. Will humans find new reasons to divide themselves up in 700 years? Or will we finally start being a decent species?

There were times I felt like the jump to the next plot point or character’s action was a little rushed. The reasonings behind what was happening next were not fully fleshed out and sometimes left me saying “wait, why are we doing this?” I had that feeling again at the very end where Miller had his revelation about Julie, that whole scene was interesting to read but I really had to suspend my disbelief.

Between Holden and Miller, I preferred Holden and his point of view chapters. He was a steadier person and ultimately just looking out for his crew after a huge tragedy. That being said, his tendency to broadcast his feelings to the entire solar system was a little odd. Apparently, Holden thought social media rhymes with private diary. But the main reason I liked Holden best was because of Miller’s idiotic moment where he took an antagonist’s punishment into his own hands. I literally stopped reading and said “Do NOT do that,” and rolled my eyes when it happened anyway a few paragraphs later.

I was disappointed in the writing of the female characters. Julie was a cool character, strong in her beliefs but we mainly learned about her off-screen through Miller’s kinda creepy obsession. Naomi was apparently an incredibly smart engineer and commander, but by the end she was just reduced to Holden’s latest sexual conquest. Honestly aside from those two, I really don’t even remember the other women in the book, so I hope this was improved in the next one. I haven’t read it yet and I’m not sure if I will. There’s other sci-fi out there I want to try before continuing this.


Leviathan Wakes was a 3.5 of 5 for me; it was science fiction-y enough for fans of the genre but it would still be a good read for people who generally balk at sci-fi.