Leviathan

Leviathan Wakes James S. A. Corey

Default Smiles Imagine you’re in space. That doesn’t do it justice. Imagine you’re really in space. Humanity has been in space for years now. Planets and moons and parts of the asteroid belt have been colonised. There’s kids growing up who’ve never known earth, who are officially Martians by nationality now. And further out than that. Imagine that world. That life.
Default Sharky And because it’s still humanity, imagine that Earth, Mars and the Belt don’t like each other much, because it’s always been an ‘us and them’ mentality and there’s no reason we should stop now.
Default Smiles Still, all that aside, humanity’s carrying on as normal. Even with most of it in space. At least, until someone attacks a water transport. Nobody’s sure who, but everyone has someone they’d love to blame. There may also be some creepy unknown space thing, but nobody knows about that yet and surely it won’t come into play at any time in the book.
Default Sharky We follow two ‘main’ characters, switching between them after each chapter. One of them is the executive officer of the water transport, and one of them is a detective looking for a missing girl. The same girl we met in the prologue, which ended with a glimpse of the creepy unknown space thing so of course it’s going to come into play.
Surprised Smiles Just what the creepy thing IS, is a mystery for the better part of the book, because it turns out attacking a water transport when most of humanity now needs water shipped to them is an excellent way to kick off widespread panic. Aaaaaand then the executive officer mentions that Martian tech was involved and oh my god no why did you do that everyone is angry now. Basically the first less-than-quarter of the book brings us to the brink of war, and it just keeps getting worse from there. And it’s AWESOME. Not the war thing, but… you know.
Happy Sharky2 The book’s pretty well paced too. Each chapter is short, and several of them end on cliffhangers that are picked up on in the next chapter from the other side. … let me try and explain that. Let’s say one chapter ends with the detective turning on the news. Something awful has just happened out in space. Before we can scream ‘WHAT?!’, the next chapter is now from the officer’s point of view, and we’re now watching the events leading up to the awful thing that happened.
Happy Smiles It’s been a while since I carried a book around everywhere so I could dip back into it for even five minutes, just to see what was happening next.
Happy Sharky Where the book really takes off is in the world building. There’s a whole new atmosphere around here. People from Earth and Mars (the inner planet people) and the Belt aren’t just ‘people who happen to live on different planets’ anymore. They look different physically because of growing up in different gravities. Belters have a whole new set of body language because they spend so much time in space suits, because there’s nothing outside their city-stations but space. You can identify a Belter or an Inner from a mile away, and Belters even have their own verbal language that Inners can’t understand. And all of that’s woven in very organically, including the prejudices and mistrust these new ‘countries’ have for each other.
Shocked Smiles But there’s definitely several times you’ll groan at something a character’s done because come on.
Surprised Sharky 2 Oh God yes, there’s some stupid decisions you see coming from a mile away. But it’s fine because it’s not stupid writing, just stupid characters. Even if you sometimes really, really want to shake the book and say WHY ARE YOU DOING THE THING?!
Default Smiles I like the main characters well enough, but one of them I WON’T SAY WHO has his share of book-shaking moments. But their companions are fantastic and I want a lot more of them. With the detective, Holden, you have his partner Havelock, the only Earther in a Belter security firm. In fact he’s in the minority on the whole city-station, and nobody lets him forget it. He’s great, I spent a lot of the book willing him to be safe. And the officer, Holden, has his trusted crew members, who are from Mars, Earth and the Belt, all surviving together, occasionally getting in truly hilarious lines in the middle of danger. Amos and Alex and Naomi are three people I’d love to spend time with while at the same time realising I probably shouldn’t spend any time with them, because trouble follows every single character wherever they go.
Happy Sharky And it brings out the world-building at a smaller level too, with that crew. You really get to see how these different countries think, especially when contrasting the warring and mutual blame against the crew who might argue but always hangs together. There’s a key moment I won’t spoil where Naomi sides with Holden on a situation, but later tells him that it was mostly just loyalty, because as a Belter she knows the other person was right, and being from Earth he would never have a mindset where it would be right. Whole new set of people, whole new set of mindsets, whole new set of politics, whole new set of problems. If I sound very excited for space politics that’s because I am.
Shocked Smiles But space battles!
Surprised Sharky Space politics.
Shocked Smiles How about both?
Surprised Sharky I like that plan.

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