Title: Leviathan Wakes
Author: James Corey
Review Summary: Very interesting premise, intriguing, and sometimes well written, but it didn’t really draw me in.
Typically classed as a space opera, Leviathan Wakes has a little bit of everything – action, horror, mystery, and of course science fiction. We alternate between two perspective, one a shuttle captain drawn into the mystery surrounding a deserted ship sending out a distress signal and the other a cop searching for a missing girl who we know was on the now deserted ship. This shuttle eventually leads them both to a secret some people are willing to “kill on an unfathomable scale for” – even if that means engineering a war.
The first sentence of the book caught my attention and the writing was sometimes as good as I expected based on that first sentence. However, the book did include a lot of different sorts of action and some parts were better done than others. The creepy bits were very creepy and well done. The mystery was my favorite part of the whole story and is what mostly kept me reading. I wish a little more of the book had focused on the political aspects, actually. The action parts weren’t so good. A lot of the dialogue on this ship reminded me, as other reviewers have noted, of Firefly (the TV show) but it wasn’t quite as good written as it would be on TV. The same was true of some of the ship battles; I just wanted to be able to see them! There was occasionally some gory violence, presented matter-of-factly and not too graphically but I think that made it all the more jarring. And as I mentioned in my review of Flight From Berlin, strong violence is not my thing.
Everything from the complex decisions faced by characters to the combat were written convincingly (although obviously my evaluation of the combat is strictly based on video games and other books) and I thought both were high points. Also, I’ve noticed in this book and other books I’ve read recently for the Sword and Laser group on goodreads, that many good sci-fi books ask an interesting moral question. In Hyperion, it would probably be a complex question about what religion mean to people. In Tigana, it was considering the importance of memory. And in Leviathan Wakes, a big theme is the importance of knowledge and how and when it’s shared with the masses. I wonder if that’s true of other genres as well; I’ll have to pay attention 🙂 Anyway, I think I liked that aspect of each of these book and it made for a more compelling narrative.
So, other than the mixed feelings about the different types of story included here, I think the only thing that kept me from liking this book a lot more were the two main characters. Both were men but even more than that neither acted in a way I could relate to most of the time. Overall, this was a pretty epic space opera which left lots of interesting and unanswered questions, so I’ll most likely be reading the sequel
Who should read it? fans of space operas of course, but it might also appeal to fans of police procedurals or of books involving large scale politics and wars. could be good for fans of Firefly or Cowboy Bebop, although the general consensus seems to be that it’s similar and not as good.