Review: Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey


leviathan-wakesLeviathan Wakes
by James S. A. Corey
Series: Expanse #1
Genre: Science Fiction Space Opera
Published by Orbit, 2011
E-book, Purchased
561 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: 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.

Seven years in Earth’s navy, five years working in space with civilians, and he’d never gotten used to the long, thin, improbable bones of Belters. A childhood spent in gravity shaped the way he saw things forever.


Havelock shook his head again, this time in mild disbelief. If he’d been a Belter, he’d have made the gesture with his hands, so you could see it when he had an environment suit on. Another of the hundred small ways someone who hadn’t grown up on the Belt betrayed himself.


  • The story is told in alternating chapters by Miller and Holden. This gives interesting points of view. At the beginning of the book they don’t know each other and are in different locations. Later on they meet. Miller is a Belter and Holden is from Earth. Their viewpoints are fundamentally different. It’s helpful to understanding this world and what’s happening to see the different points of view.
  • Humans have traveled throughout the solar system, but not discovered how to leave it.
  • An exciting space opera–just the kind of science fiction I like. Even though the book is almost 600 pages (and I was on vacation with a large family group while I read the end of the book), I read it quickly.
  • I like the way the author imagines and describes the way the solar system develops–both the habitats humans develop and the way humans change based on where they live in the solar system.
  • Ceres–where Miller lives–with the multitude of people, businesses, living quarters, foods, the need for shipped-in water is vividly described. I feel like I can see it.
  • Great world building.
  • I like the political dynamics in the book–the inner planets v. the Belters; Earth v. Mars, corporations v. everyone else and so on.
  • The differences which have developed between all the people has created misunderstandings and prejudices on both sides. I think that’s realistic.
  • Holden is young, idealistic and thinks people are basically good; Miller is the cynical policeman who’s seen it all. I relate better to Miller than Holden. Does that say something about me?!!


  • Toward the end of the book I got irritated with Holden when he never seems to learn. In some ways that’s nice–he’s idealistic–in other ways, I thought he was stupid and willfully blind!

And a few thoughts . . .

  • This is the first book I’ve read by James S. A. Corey and I really enjoyed it.
  • James S. A. Corey is the pseudonym of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.
  • My kindle edition also has a full copy of The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham. This is the first book of the Dragon and the Coin series. The fourth book in that series–The Widow’s House–just came out in August 2014.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?