Title: Leviathan Wakes
Author: James SA Corey
Publication Date: June 2011
Number of Pages: 561
Series: #1 in the Expanse series
Reason for Discovery: Sword & Laser Book Club
Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach. Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, "The Scopuli," they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why. Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to "The Scopuli" and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything. Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations - and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.
Leviathan Wakes was awesome. James SA Corey wrote a summer blockbuster in book form. The book just grabs you from the prologue and doesn't let go until the epilogue. Seriously, I was expecting little explosions to pop out when I turned each page. The softback is a tome, but it is a quick read with ten page chapters. You just keep having to read the next chapter, because each chapter ends on a cliffhanger, and the next chapter is "only" ten pages.
The book starts with a relatively small mystery and a little political intrigue; however, by the end, the mystery is huge and the political intrigue is far more encompassing that you may have originally imagined. As I was reading the book, I found myself becoming strongly attached to Holden, his crew, and Detective Miller. I held my breath every time something dangerous happened. Did they make it? Will they make it through the next dangerous event?
This book has everything from space flights, fun banter, a bit of romance, explosions, and a mysterious disease. According to Wikipedia, a "space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that often emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, usually involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities." I feel that Leviathan Wakes fits this niche. Specifically, this story takes place in space, there is some interesting technology at the root of the story, and some crazy, dramatic, explosive stuff happens in this tale. If you are looking for a hard SF novel or something using SF to discuss the human condition, you need to look somewhere else.
James SA Corey did a smart thing by having two alternating POVs (Holden and Miller) throughout the book. FYI, James SA Corey is two people (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). The two POVs was a really seamless way of merging two different authors and their writing styles into one book. This may be a hindsight is 20/20 thing, but I feel like the two main characters of Holden and Miller felt more developed than main characters in other books, because each author claimed one of these characters for their own.
I give Leviathan Wakes five space ships.