Space opera. In my many years as a reader, I have never heard of this science fiction subgenre until now.
After researching a bit more, only then did I realized I have actually read books and watch TV/movie titles from the space opera category without even knowing it. Books like Enders Game, Dune, TV shows like Star Trek, and my favorite graphic novel Saga were some of the examples I’ve found to fall under this subgenre.
Wikipedia explains that “space opera is a sub-genre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking.”
Leviathan Wakes meets all of these criteria and it is pure space opera. The first in The Expanse series it is an excellent introduction to the life and adventures of James Holden and the Roci crew. The series has nine books in total, with the ninth and final book due to be released in December of this year.
I rarely read anything beyond 400 pages because it’s often a challenge for me to find time to read books that have heavy content, so reading Leviathan Wakes was an accomplishment. With over 600 pages, however, the book is quite frankly an easy and entertaining read.
The story is told from two main characters’ point of view; James Holden, an XO on an ice hauler called the Canterbury, and Detective Miller a washed-up Belter cop from Ceres, in alternating chapters. Each on their own individual quest who are slowly drawn together as the story develops.
The characters were realistic, humane and relatable. The authors also provided great backstories for the two protagonists.
Leviathan Wakes has a solid plot and the storytelling is steady in pace. It has action, mystery, romance, politics, alien technology, and vomit zombies… yes, vomit zombies. What’s not to love about vomit zombies in space?
If you’re a big fan of the TV series like I am and have not read the book, you should.
Obviously, there are differences between the book and the TV series but even then, both the book and the tv series are successful in their storytelling, plot, character development, and world-building told in their respective forms.
As someone who has watched both the TV shows and currently reading the series, I have to say though that I love the TV version of Holden better than the book. Book Holden is annoyingly self-righteous.
Leviathan Wakes is a solid science fiction story. In fact, it’s so solid, I’m currently on my third book in the series. It may not have dazzling technology and fantastical alien beings but its ability in telling a detailed, believable story with characters that are relatable in a well-thought-out universe, makes it a very engaging read.
Read the book, I think you might just enjoy it.
Favourite quotes from the book:
- Say what you will about organized crime, at least it’s organized.
- Ceres didn’t have laws. It had police.
- It’s the problem with politics. Your enemies are often your allies. And vice versa.
- Life is risk.
- A stone in the ocean, the phrase went. One star among millions.
- “What kind of half-assed apocalypse are they running down there?” Amos said. “Give ’em a break. It’s their first.”
- The bird was out of the cage, but you couldn’t let it stretch its wings too far or it might forget it belonged to you.
- Genocide’s old-school.
- Holden had once dated a Buddhist who said that death was merely a different state of being, and people only feared the unknown that lay behind that transition. Death without warning was preferable, as it removed all fear.
- Stars are better off without us.
- When you got right down to it, humans were still just curious monkeys. They still had to poke everything they found with a stick to see what it did.
- No rest for the wicked, Julie Mao said in his mind. No peace for the good.
- Everyone too busy trying to survive to spend any time creating something new.
- I don’t believe war ever does. It’s a madness that’s in our nature. Sometimes it recurs; sometimes it subsides.” “Sounds like a disease.” “The herpes simplex of the species?”
- I didn’t switch sides. I stopped playing.