Pamela's Reviews > Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
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Feb 26, 12

bookshelves: readin2012, clunky, alternate-histories-or-futures, sci-fi, series, disappointing
Read from February 23 to 25, 2012

As the first in a trilogy, and with everyone screaming "new space opera yessss!" about this book, I expected it to be expansive, mind-blowing, and, well, operatic. My hopes deflated like a sad balloon, going "hisssssssssss" (with a boo in there somewhere).

That's not to say it's an entirely bad book. It's not. I felt engaged with the story for about the first third of the book. Corey (which is actually a pseudonym for two authors, one of whom collaborates with George R.R. Martin, hence the glowing praise from Martin on the cover) tells the story from alternating viewpoints. At this time in humanity's future, we've moved out to Mars and colonized the outer areas around Saturn, mining the rings for ice. The outer colonists have adapted to their environment by becoming taller and thinner. They speak a funky patois of old Earth languages, and the Inners (people from Earth and Mars) regard them as weird. It's reciprocal. Miller is an Outer who works for an Inner-owned security firm, and gets the assignment of tracking down (read: kidnapping) the daughter of some bigwigs from Mars. Apparently she's run away, joined the resistance (Outers v. Inners), and gone native. Then she went missing. Miller isn't too happy with this assignment, but finds himself increasingly fascinated with his subject. In the Q&A at the end of the book, the authors state that they wanted to make Miller a very noir detective. I guess they succeeded, but he borders on caricature. Tough talking guy, willing to circumvent the law, vengeance, falling for the wrong dame, hat, getting in over his head: it's all here, but without the style and utter cool of Chandler or Hammett.

His foil, in a sense, is the super idealistic captain of a small crew whose ship's destruction starts a war. Holden is actually ... just so boring. That's one of the main pitfalls of the book--I didn't engage with any of the characters. I couldn't picture them, hear them speak. I got them mixed up in my head. Ultimately, this means I really didn't care what happened to them.

The other main issue I have with this book is that it's billed as space opera but is really just a mediocre sci-fi war story/police procedural. We hear very little about the science that's allowed humanity to expand, and a lot of the ship fights read like Horatio Hornblower in space. I'm spoiled with Alastair Reynolds and Peter F. Hamilton and Iain Banks. They do the big picture. Leviathan Wakes is a fuzzy Polaroid.
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02/24/2012 page 342
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Pamela Note: the series gets like a million times better as it goes on ... or maybe I was just jaded when I wrote the review.


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