Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey: A True Star War
Leviathan Wakes is the first book of the nine-part sci-fi epic known as The Expanse written by James S. A. Corey. Although this book is only an opening to a vast universe of a story, Leviathan Wakes is still a phenomenal standalone novel that provides a story and characters that feel stronger than any sci-fi novel while also including the groundwork to a series worth the title of The Expanse.
Leviathan Wakes is, in part, a split story with half the novel focusing on the separate lives of Jim Holden and his crew, ice farmers who find themselves in the middle of a galactic conspiracy, and detective Miller, a police officer on Ceres Station trying to solve a cold case of a missing girl. The story focuses on both these characters’ arcs separately until their paths converge in the latter half of the novel with each side having equal character growth and development throughout the course of the story. Holden’s and Miller’s arcs contrast one another with each learning from the actions of the other in different ways. However, Holden’s arc does not feel as complete as Millers’ by the end of the story, something that will probably be addressed in future installments.
The world of The Expanse is a character unto itself. Corey’s world (or worlds in this case) is rich with history and innovation that never feels surface level with every mechanic, faction, and local being given a detailed description. A world that presents a cold war between Mars and Earth while the outer stretches of the solar system live in poverty is such an interesting idea that is fully developed within the story. The tensions between the three powers are deep and make sense within the context presented by Corey. Each faction has its own motives which makes it all the more fascinating to watch these characters navigate the solar system as the galaxy burns around them. However, there are points where the sheer size and scope of the world can cause confusion to a normal reader and it should be noted that this size causes the story to be hard to follow in certain areas.
While Leviathan Wakes is only one of nine in a greater story, the novel approaches some deep themes of power and decisions based on said power with careful nuance. Throughout the novel, choices are made by the characters that have massive consequences that are completely unforeseen. This theme is further attached to the concept of power and how people with certain power do not fully understand the power they have which is symbolized by the main power of this story, an alien weapon. This idea of power and decisions is at the core of Leviathan Wakes and themes I hope to see further expanded on going forward in the series.
In conclusion, Leviathan Wakes is an amazing jumping point for a vast series that manages to become an amazing standalone sci-fi novel by itself. Its massive world combined with its characters and themes make for an engaging read that never truly slows down. Although some of its characters does not have as much of an arc or that the world sometimes suffocates the reader in its scale, Leviathan Wakes proves to be some of the best sci-fi writing of all time and I recommend it to any small or large science fiction or just science fan in general and I look forward to reading more from this surely amazing series.