Review of “Leviathan Wakes” by James S.A. Corey

Posted: November 23, 2012 in Reviews

I love a good science fiction movie where the characters are complex, the beauty of the stars a mere backdrop to the real drama of humanity. I’ve tried many times to replicate this feeling in a science fiction novel and only a very few novels have met with these expectations (“The Sparrow” and to a lesser extent “Century Rain”). But “Leviatian Wakes” gets up there. Its noir, its horror, its romance, its political thriller, its drama, all rolled into one. And its set in space. And there are space battles and mysterious alien presences and human settlements in the vast expanse of space. Told from two alternating perspectives, the story follows Jim Holden, the captain of a space ship and Miller, a middle-aged, weary cynical cop as they both race to destroy an ancient alien virus that a group of human scientists have discovered and unleashed on a galaxy that now comprises of Earth, a terra firmed Mars and a collection of colonised asteroids called the Belt. Its nicely paced, smoothly written (despite being a collaboration of 2 people) and has an impressive amount of detailed and plausible world building. I liked the world that James SA Corey create, the hopefulness of space exploration combined with the tension between the three political groups (Earth, Mars and the stations and asteroids that make up the Belt or OPA-Outer Planetary alliance). Holden’s rememberances of his childhood in the free air of Montana contrast with Miller’s own recollections of growing up in the grittiness of the Belt. The characters’ journeys are interwoven nicely into the textured suspense of the narrative as Holden and Miller desperately try to save the virus from engulfing the entire galaxy while trying to maintain their own moral centre. If there was anything that let the novel down, it was the ending. Too quick and sudden, I felt that there needed to be more reflection at the end about where the characters were and where they might possibly be going next. Despite being the first of a trilogy, the ending of this book need not have been quite so abrupt. The epilogue felt more like reading a dot point summary of what the author(s?) intended to write rather than a real epilogue. Nonetheless, the next book is eagerly awaited.


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