Characters and a plot maybe. Get to the point...
I dont know how they made a TV show out of this...
As many of the books I read I was turned on to this one by my wife, who has an amazing taste. My wife and I realized the book had been turned into a series as we started watching the pilot for The Expanse. I have been reading this book since then. This has been the only book I have taken weeks to listen to. I refuse to "zone out" while listening to it. The story is an easy one to follow and the narator does an amazing job at bringing it to life. I can't recommend this book enough. Now to download the next one.
Well I admittedly found out about this series through the SyFy Tv show. So call me a band-wagoner! I take no offense. Especially since the joy I got out of this book is double that of the TV show! I feel like it's such a cliche to say now, but I'd be very hard pressed to find any movie/tv adaptation that trumps a prior written novel. Leviathan Wakes keeps that tradition alive. Having watched the first two episodes, I thought I had a pretty good beat on what this series what going for, and what it would lead to. Having read the first book in the series, I was a still thrown for a few shockers.
First off let me say that I was two episodes into the show before I began this. I'm relieved that I didn't get any further than that. While the show was good, it is...different than the book, in subtle and not so subtle ways that makes keeps the two distinct from each other, a bit hard. So I decided until I'm done with the book series, I'm putting my viewing of the show on hold.
The book starts with a semi stable but uneasy alliance between three major factions of players. We have Earth's Federation, The Congressional Mars Republic, and the outer colonies in the Jupiter / Saturn Keiper Belt, also known as 'belters'. Here in this colony of the biggest melting pot of all time, we have the seeds of our story. The people here are pretty much looked down upon and not very well respected by Earth and Mars alike. We can assume that it's been atleast 2 to 3 generations of people that have grown up now as pure "Belters". The book describes their physical differences now being able to be actually seen. (they're lankier, often with protruding bones, taller, and leaner)
Since it's been quite some time for the belters, and their lack of support from the Inner planets, they seem to be wanting for some independence from their pack-masters. (It couldn't be a science fiction book without rebelistic colonists!) Tensions rise and rise between the three factions, and things begin to surface during a fateful encounter with a derelick space freighter..
So that's the windup and pitch...
And bang! James Corey hits a homer. While this book isn't perfect (I'll get to my dislikes soon), it does a very very plausible job of being one really strong science fiction book, up there with the best.
I've just read (and barely stomached) Alistair Reynold's book "Pushing Ice". I really want to compare the two novels because of their similarities, and where Reynolds failed, to me, Corey captures what he couldn't. Both books engage the read about a Jupiter/Saturn mining colony (though colony may be a bit of a stretch in Reynold's world). And both center around a crew that mine ice. What Reynolds didn't do in his book is world build. He focused far too much on the "hard science" and got lost in his own perceived cleverness... In Leviathan Wakes, Corey balances the two splendidly. I mean seriously, reading the book, feels like such a smooth balance after reading the eye gouging work of Reynolds. I really can't harp on this enough. Leviathan Wakes creates a world (while not 100% original in theme) that feels like it could feasibly exist in 200-300 years. The problems of racism, racial tension, suspicion and mistrust are laid out early, which just adds to the "real feel" of the world. We have racism on our own planet, you really think once different planets and colonies begin their own procreation, we won't be looking at them as different?
Corey not only paints a very realistic social image of the future, he also dips his hand into the science, crunchy bits. He keeps it from getting way to pretentious though. He makes sure to use things like radar and ladar, how targeting systems would react in certain conditions, and even gives us a realistic view of how living on a colony such as Ceres or Eros would be like. Always mindful of the affects of vacuum on the body, and going towards the end, he really gives us a vivid image of the effects of what would happen to the human body under high G's. Describing things like constant barrage of high speeds like that would be determental to hollow spaces in the body like the lungs, and fragile parts, like eye capilaries etc. Also he talks about how constant super high velocity can speed up the deteration of flaws in bone structure etc.. A lot of attention to detail, that didn't seem like he was trying to flaunt his knowledge or show off. Something that Reynolds equally failed at. With Reynold's book "Pushing Ice" if felt like I was reading something by a smug professor who's full of himself. Corey's Leviathan Wakes reads like a guy who studied a lot and I want to grab a beer with.
The characters of Leviathan Wakes are also surprisingly likeable. I really felt bad for Miller.. And his obsession with Julie just added to this. I loved the idea that this divorced guy, down on his luck, basically fired from his job, has created this fictional love interest with a "dead" girl. It soon turns to him seeing her his fascination deepens to the point where she's speaking with him. ( This really sad character design is a bit ruined by the end of the book, but I'll get to that shortly...)
On the Rocinate side, I like the team, each character a bit different, and they all play off each other very well. Amos' harsh rugged chatter, is distinct from Holden's more boyscout like approach. It feels refreshingly real.
My two main gripes about the book are this... for all of Corey's realistic science crunch, he fails to make use of things like 'distance' Everything happens very fast (the exact opposite problem with Reynolds) In long distance space combat, and communications, things should be delayed heavily. Especially communications between ships, but here there are delays but their meant to be pauses while the other side thinks about how to respond. Communication, unrealistically, seems instant. A mere gripe though, doesn't detract from the book...
My bigger complaint is the ending itself... Without getting TOO far into the spoiler world... I was really hoping that the book wouldn't take a turn too much into the paranormal. The zombie virus thing? Okay, I can deal, it creates a 4th player into the mix. Plus it's a good catalyst to spark the already high tensions. But the way it was executed with the fact that it 'captures human essence like Julia's personality? Ehhh a bit cheesy, but since this is only book one, I can't really mark this as a final definite fault, since I'm not sure where the story will be headed from here.
I really really enjoyed reading this. You can tell since I've already begun book two of the Expanse. I think Corey has beautifully penned a story that while it's not all original in it's main theme, he crafted it in a way that is a realistic portrayal, and generally a fun read. A balance of action ( some great marine combat that I failed to mention!) science, and horror ( it can be surprisingly gruesome in detail). On to book two!!
I didn't read the print version. I find I have little time, so I prefer to listen to my book on the move.
Plot twists, interesting characters. Crazy science. If you're homed in the new SYFI series, this is the perfect companion.
I loved the not so distant solar system that Corey wrote here. Often when authors envision new and faster modes of space travel, the scope of humanity almost instantly becomes infinite and the species is flung out to distant moons and stars. But the story is set in a time when humans are still very much confined-- to the solar system. There is a sense of knowing the whole scope of the landscape-- nothing is unknown or unknowable.
And that's exactly what makes the proto molecule so scary-- that while the bad guy is still very much the big bad pharma company protogen-- the scary alien game changer is something that nobody would have guessed existed within the solar system for millions of years. While we evolved on earth, it sat stuck out in limbo-- the whole time it was there.
Excellent, excellent book. The hours flew by while I listened. The narrator left something to be desired and descriptions could be a little long winded and round-about. But this book is well on its way to being a sci fi classic. I am excited to read the next in the series!
Yes. I listened to this over the weekend. And loved every minute of it. Exiting action, interesting characters and one hell of a problem they have been handed.
The descriptions of Eros and the things happening to its inhabitants
The moment when Miller and Dresden meet and the things that happen then
I loved the concept, liked the characters and the universe but towards the end it got weird. Didn't feel that it was natural, with a random plot twist thrown in there that didn't fit. Still I did enjoy it and will get the second book