Sunday, August 9, 2015

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey Book Review: Get Excited for The Expanse on Sci-Fi!

I downloaded and listened to Leviathan Wakes after finding out it is being developed into a television show. I was listening to a Nerdist podcast with Chad Coleman as the guest, and he plugged this show as in development. I’m always on the lookout for new sci-fi stories and decided to give this book a try before the series kicks off this winter. It’s an interesting book and good story, but I wish I would have waited for the television show.
The book is very episodic. Which is why I think it will make a perfect television series. I can already see where they will break each episode down. They should be able to stretch the first novel into two seasons if they want to. The problem is the story never drew me in as a book. The characters would accomplish one task and I wouldn’t be compelled to continue on to see what happened next.  It’s not that the story isn’t interesting, it is, I just never felt hooked enough to binge listen. I could see myself being excited enough to tune in week to week if they do the show right.  I hope they give the show enough of a budget to be successful.  They have a good actor, Chad Coleman, to play Fred Johnson who is a big supporting character in the book.  Thomas Jane is set to play one of the major roles, Detective Miller, so the cast is anchored well.
Didn’t mean to go into a preview for the TV-show for my book review.  I just want a new science fiction show to succeed on the sci-fi network.  This series has a good chance to succeed based on the content in the book. I really enjoy the universe Corey builds in the novel.  There are three different factions of humans in the solar system. People from Earth, Mars, and the Belt. Each faction is naturally at odds with the other because, hey, we’re all still human.  I really liked how the Belters where truly the misunderstood people in the solar system. Corey did a great job of setting up how different they were from people who grew up on actual planets.  Actions transpire in the book that cause the fragile peace to be broken between the three different groups.
In the middle of all the mess are the two main characters, XO Holden and Detective Miller. Corey jumps back from each of their perspectives and it works for the most part. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t relate well to Detective Miller. He’s a down on his luck burnout cop. He’s jaded and cynical about the universe.  I usually like these types of characters, but I just couldn’t get behind Miller. It’s one reason why I would suggest to wait for the Television series, the characters are the weakest part of the book. Corey tries to make Miller complex, and he works hard to develop him, it just fell flat for me. Holden is the opposite of Miller. He is an idealistic starship executive officer, who does well with the ladies. A tad cliché, but of the two main characters I related to Holden more than Miller.
Where the characters are a tad weak, the universe Corey develops is stellar.  Corey is very heavy on the science in his science fiction. There are no inertia compensators, so the accelerating of starships have effects on the human body. Living a life in space also affects the body. The belters reflect this. They are more lanky and elongated, and if they are subjected to high gravity bruise easier. Everything for a belter is perilous. If one thing goes wrong it could set a chain of events in motion which could collapse their society. If ice haulers from Saturn don’t make a run on time or at all, it could spell disaster for the entire system. They have to rely on Earth and Mars for much of their livelihood and want to be able to break away.  This is the underlying current for the novel. “Earther’s” are looked down upon in the belt, and Belters are thought of as second class citizens to people from Earth and Mars. Humans in the future aren’t immune to racism. The scale is just vastly larger, and the groups have changed.
Our characters get caught in the middle of a conspiracy and must navigate their way through to survive. It’s perilous, and Corey does a good job of building tension throughout the book. Again I was never sucked completely in because each chapter was almost its own adventure. I was happy with each section, but able to walk away and wait for a bit to come back to the novel.  Corey throws in some sci-fi horror, which is a good addition to the book and keeps the story moving forward.
I’m excited for this book to be made into a television series. It should make for a good television show. According to IMDB 10 episodes are ready to go (The Expanse), so it looks like we will get an entire season.  If you want to get ready for the season pick up the book. I’ll visit the next couple of books in the five book saga (thanks @Peter Gulka for the assist)  if the series doesn’t make it, but I think I’ll wait to be surprised if the show goes past season one.
My Rating: Good Science Fiction Novel.

Have you read the Expanse trilogy? Are you exited to see it on the sci-fi network? Comment and let me know. 

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