Monday, April 20, 2015

LEVIATHAN WAKES by James S. A. Corey


*Book 1 of The Expanse series*

I don't really read many big sci-fi/fantasy series, the only ones have been Stephen King's The Dark Tower series and George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, both of which I enjoyed. But I'd read great thing's about James S. A. Corey's Expanse series, and the books in the 9-volume series seem to be coming out at the steady pace at a book a year, so being that there is an end in sight, I thought I'd give it a shot! 

The book takes place centuries in the future, generations after mankind has expanded into the rest of the Solar System to colonize Mars, it's moons, the Asteroid Belt, as well as the moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. There is turmoil already brewing between the "inner planets" and the "Belters" and "outer planets." In a pair of parallel stories, we follow both James Holden, the Earthling XO of an ice-hauling vessel who suddenly becomes the captain of a small ragtag crew after they witness the bombing of their ship while on a recon mission, and Detective Miller, a Belter security officer on Ceres station investigating a missing girl. They are both caught up in not only a conspiracy but also in the middle of a war that has just broken out in amongst the planets. 

The science and speculative details of the story is the most fascinating thing here and really kept me reading. I just loved being lost in this universe. It caused me to do my own research on the Solar System and learn more about gravity and lack there of. I love the idea of people who were born and raised in places without natural gravity looking different than people who do. And I love that by expanding to other planets, discrimination based on skin color or has pretty much gone away, but replaced by something else. And despite all of the complex sci-fi stuff, the book was surprisingly easy to read!

But I have to disagree with a lot of the fans out here, the book's pacing left a lot to be desired. Something always felt off with the pacing and the tension. There was never a sense of real urgency and it always felt to me like an episodic TV series where Holden and his crew go from one adventure to the other, rather than having a solid overarching through-line. And many times the action scenes were really fumbled, where the set-up is amazing and the the author ruins it by overwriting or taking all the tension out of it altogether. A great example is the initially exciting sequence where are heroes are trying to escape Eros station which is being put on lock down, then a huge twist is introduced that promises to ramp up the stakes even more, filling the sequence with a new type of danger and violence that the character have never had to deal with! But instead, our characters sit around and talk for a bit in the middle of all the action, as if they're oblivious. I couldn't believe about a missed opportunity. Also, a climactic scene near the end had so much potential to be as suspenseful and creepy as Ripley descending into the Queen's lair at the end of Aliens, but instead the sequence is about Miller mostly pining over some chick and feeling sorry for himself, and you never feel like he's in any real danger, even though he's literally surrounded by the enemy. It also seemed like there was a problem keeping character details consistent, with Holden's pilot introduced as a guy who constantly talks to the point of annoyance but then after a while, he gets quieter and quieter, until he barely says 10 sentences before the end of the book.

So I was a bit disappointed but I still think I'll give the 2nd book in the series a try!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be respectful