Nathaniel Turner's Reviews > Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
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Aug 02, 2012

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Read in August, 2012


This was a difficult book to like, at times. I have no taste for gore/horror storylines, so the aptly named "vomit zombies" were unappealing to me. An intriguing, albeit not unprecedented, take on the shambling menace. This was the crux of the entire book (and, it would seem, the groundwork for the entire series, however long that shall be), so it was pervasive. I didn't hate it, but I didn't particularly enjoy it.

Worse, the profanity. More pervasive than the zombies. I get that many people don't find a story "real" or "genuine" if the characters aren't cursing up a storm when things go sideways. I disagree. I think it's entirely plausible to avoid modern curses altogether; you can use alternatives ("frell," "rutting," "gorram," and others come to mind) or you can have characters that simply don't curse every other word. Such people do exist, after all.

I did not care for the notable presence of sexuality, but I will point out that the sexuality in this book was remarkably less blatant and graphic than it is in many modern science fiction. I suppose "pulp fiction" may be the term for selling books to the lowest common denominator, and "Leviathan Wakes" was not (quite) pulp fiction.

The book's treatment of religion was... callous, at best. Indifferent, maybe. There was an apparent disconnect between the characters and any sort of genuine religious sense - or maybe that disconnect extends even to the authors, but I can't say for sure. But I do know that, while the book avoids the trends of other Sci-Fi (e.g., Star Trek) in claiming that religion was erased as if it were a black spot on humanity's record, it doesn't quite give it a fair shake. But I wasn't expecting much in that department, anyway.

On the other hand, there was mystery, intrigue, and tough characters. In some ways, Holden and Miller were very likable. Holden more than Miller, though, but I think it was intended that way. Miller is almost an anti-hero, someone who does good things but not necessarily for good reasons, and certainly not with an upbeat or positive attitude. His particular brand of insanity is peculiar, but not necessarily unreasonable. Holden is basically a good person, and believes that everyone is basically a good person, but he's a bit too enslaved to his own emotional well-being to be a real hero.

At any rate, I enjoyed the book, and its flow and structure allowed it to build before entering that inescapable page-turning phase. It also set up handily for future volumes, although I would not expect favorite characters to make much of an appearance. This universe doesn't revolve around Holden and Miller, after all - they just happened to be caught up in the first bunch of events. Someone else will probably be caught up in the next bunch.

Speaking of the next bunch, I may not read future volumes. The profanity, sexuality, and probability of gore/horror elements (evidently, according to the authors, a staple of their work) provide strong dissuading arguments. But it was a fun read, and I am glad that I received it from my dear wife as an anniversary present (after requesting it some months prior, of course).

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