“Leviathan Wakes” Review

The top half of the cover is taken up by the author's name and the book title. In the background is a view of space with a blue tinge with earth visible at the top edge. There is a large asteroid at the top left corner and the bottom is entirely taken up by the edge of a ship. Full Title: “Leviathan Wakes: The Expanse No. 1”
Written by James S.A. Corey
Published by Orbit Books, June 2011
561 pages
Completed May 4, 2024

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.

I’ve been wanting to re-read this series for a while so I decided May was going to be the month I started reading it again. As this first book in the series this one is a fun read. The characters and the world building are great. I love the way everything is set up for the rest of the series. A lot of things happen in the book that will have an impact much farther down the line. I also really like the way the crew of the Rocinante comes together – Jim Holden, Naomi Nagata, Alex Kamal, and Amos Burton – it’s a team built out of chaos and destruction but they make a great team flaws and all. Detective Miller good too but he’s definitly a tragic character.

Okay I’m just going to say this once – something that frustrates me about the writing is how often “stupid” or “idiot” are used as shorthand for any character flaw instead of actually naming the flaw for what it is – arrogance, greed, carelessness, recklessness, etc. Granted, it’s a thing people do all the time, so it’s not surprising it’s in the book. It’s still frustrating though since it’s a constant thing that happens. There’s also a weird scene where Holden contemplates taking advantage of a drunk Naomi (they’re at a bar together she’s drunk, he is not) and the narration clearly acts as though it’s a natural thing to contemplate… the fact that he doesn’t do it at all doesn’t mitigate anything. At least it’s clear throughout the book Naomi isn’t going to tolerate any BS from him and he listens.