Book Review: Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, #1) by James S. A. Corey

Book Review: Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, #1) by James S. A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Expanse (Book #1 of 9)

Genre: Science fiction, Space opera, mystery

Pages: 592 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 15th June 2011 by Orbit (UK) & 2nd June 2011 by Orbit (US)


Leviathan Wakes was so good; a character-driven space-opera that combines sci-fi, noir, mystery, and a slice of horror into one.

I’ve watched only the first season and a few episodes of the second season, but it was enough to make me want to read all the available books in the series first before continuing with the TV series again. Seriously, amazing movies/TV adaptations boost book sales exponentially more than anything else in the world, and I do believe that The Expanse by James S. A. Corey has received this benefit. Here’s one proof, below is a picture of my collection of the series which I bought just because of what I’ve watched so far.

Isn’t it gorgeous? Can we also give standing applause to James S. A. Corey for the name of each respective book title of this series? It’s hands down some of the coolest book titles I’ve come across so far.

Leviathan Wakes is the first installment in The Expanse nine-book series by James S. A. Corey; a duo comprised of Daniel Abraham—the author of The Long Price Quartet and The Dagger and the Coin series—and Ty Franck. Both Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck are authors who have worked closely with George R. R. Martin, and I think the writing is slightly reminiscent of Martin’s writing style.

The story in Leviathan Wakes follows two different main characters, Jim Holden and Detective Miller. When Jim and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in a possession of a dangerous secret. Meanwhile, Miller is looking for a girl in a system of billions, and it eventually leads to the Scopuli as well. The story starts slow and interesting enough for both storylines but once their story intertwines, I was completely hooked. Due to having watched the majority of the plotline in the first book, I have to admit that there weren’t a lot of surprises left for me here. However, I’m surprised that the badass lady Avasarala—my favorite character in the TV show so far—didn’t even appear at all in Leviathan Wakes, not even mentioned. Also, Amos in the TV show and in the book felt like a completely different person! But here’s the thing, despite knowing the storylines already, I still have a wonderful time reading this book. I’ve been craving for a character-driven space-opera series to read for a while now, and Leviathan Wakes fits the bill.

“The massive radiation exposure had failed to give him superpowers.”

The characterizations and the banter between Holden and Miller are, in my opinion, the two main driving strength of the narrative. Seeing the chemistry—similarities and contrasts included—between the two characters was incredibly engaging. As Corey has mentioned, Holden and Miller have an opposite view in the way information should be spread out. Holden, as an idealist, believes that all information should be given to everyone. Miller, on the other hand, is a nihilist that believes information must be controlled carefully. I think the cooperation and the clash between these two main characters made the plot progression so much more engaging than I expected. I loved both storylines and internalizations; although Miller’s story took a while for me to get into, I ended up feeling invested in his journey as much as I did for Holden’s ever since their story intertwines with each other. Corey’s characterization for Holden and Miller was so spot-on, and I feel that their personality excels more in the book than the TV adaptation; the nuances in their characterizations were unfound on the TV show.

“First off, get your shit together. Panic doesn’t help. It never helps. Deep breaths, figure this out, make the right moves. Fear is the mind-killer. Ha. Geek.”

There are disadvantages that came from having watched the TV series first, though; the intriguing aspect of the mystery was lost on me. However, there are also advantages. I did have some difficulty imagining some scenes and settings through the text provided, and fortunately, my beforehand experience with the TV show was able to conjure the visual imagery wanted. Do note, though, that out of my favorite genres—fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction—I personally have more trouble with visualizing when I’m reading sci-fi compared to the other two.

Leviathan Wakes is a great start to a big sci-fi series which I’m hoping I’ll enjoy more and more as I progress through it. Despite the large backdrops and settings, I loved how Corey prioritized the characters and their actions, more than anything else, to take the central stage. For now, I plan to make my way through each book in the series monthly. I’m hoping that the final book of the series will, at least, have an official publication date by the time I caught up.


You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

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