Cops, Pirates, and Space REVIEWING Leviathan Wakes

Welcome back to The Real World According To Sam! I love science fiction and have been wanting to read more books in the Space Opera subgenre. I read one last year, so let's talk about it. 

Leviathan Wakes

Author: James S. A. Corey
Genre: Science Fiction
Year: 2011

Leviathan Wakes


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. 


This is the first space opera I have read that is not related to Star Wars. Leviathan Wakes is the first book of The Expanse series, which is an eight book series so far, with a ninth (and final) book scheduled for publication this year in October. This book series was developed into an Amazon Prime Video original series, so you may have heard of it as a result of that. I've never seen the show, so I definitely went into this book blind.

Leviathan Wakes tells the story of a few people whose lives end up tangled up together because of one ship. Jim Holden is an executive officer (XO) of a mining ship called the Canterbury. He and his crew run across the Scopuli, floating in space. As Holden and a few of his crewmates go aboard the ship, the Canterbury is destroyed, right in front of their eyes. Holden sends out a transmission and initiates a galactic frenzy and power struggle. 

Detective Miller is a cop that is long past his prime. He has definite issues and has a hard time being as productive as he once was. He has vices and scars that have left him largely disaffected. He is tasked with finding a girl named Julie, whose parents have a lot of money and want her found. Later, he's told to drop the matter entirely, but Miller is too far in to give up. He finally has a sense of purpose and refuses to drop the trail. Ultimately, the story and pursuit of information by Holden and Miller causes them to travel parallel paths, waiting for an eventual collision. 

This book is told from three different perspectives: Holden, Miller, and Julie. Over the course of the novel, we find out more and more about what is happening. The scale of the conflict is huge, to say the least. Having different narrative views allows us to gather small bits of information that gradually add up. Most of the story is told from the perspectives of Holden and Miller, while Julie takes the backburner. By the end, however, the story comes full circle with Julie. 

The best thing about this book is the way the conflicts continually escalate. As soon as I thought I had things figured out, or when things would hit a lull, the stakes became higher and higher. They surpassed the level I thought they would reach and I was constantly being stunned by just how much more could be added to the story. This is a very large world, with lots of planets and lots of conflict, though that in of itself may be an understatement. There are different divisions in the galaxy (based on the side of the asteroid belt planets are on), which causes tensions between different sectors. There are prejudices and preconceived notions of people that play into a larger political schism within the book. Having this dynamic present causes a lot of conflict on top of piracy, general crime, larger plots, and cover ups. The amount of conflict this book packs is ridiculous. I loved it. 

I really enjoyed the different characters and the cast. Holden’s shipmates were of great interest, Holden provided a very clean cut, business-like view, while Miller was a gritty, beat up cop in contrast. This book ended up delivering not just a space opera, but also a crime noir kind of vibe. It follows a lot of components of detective fiction, stays in the realm of sci-fi fantasy, and focuses greatly on human dynamics. I definitely recommend this book and am happy to give it a Lone Star rating of ✯ and a half.

I'm looking forward to reading the next books in this series and I've been really happy with the science fiction books I have read lately. This was definitely worth a read. 

This concludes another review here at The Real World According To Sam. Thanks for reading! I'll see you at the next review.