Review #69 // Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) – James S.A. Corey

In the future, there is Earth, Mars, and the Belt. While responding to a distress call, the ice hauler that Jim Holden worked on was blown up by a stealth ship of unknown origins. On Ceres Station in the Belt, Detective Miller is given a kidnap job that leads him on a galaxy wide chase to find the truth.

Why this book?: The Expanse is one of my favorite series ever. Babylon’s Ashes, the 6th, just came out. Rereading for fun!


Intricate and complex

Leviathan Wakes is probably my favorite of this amazing space opera series. Corey takes “rising action” to a whole new level, starting the book off slow so you get to know the characters, and as you get comfortable with them, build up the plot. This allows you to better understand character’s actions later on in the novel, even as the characters themselves change due to events. Quite a few characters actively change within this first book, developing into the complex and deep characters they are later on in the series.

I was rarely bored while reading Leviathan Wakes, something which can be seen with my tabbing activity. I still don’t know how many tabs I used while reading, but here’s the final result:


Corey is able to combine an amazing, complex science fiction world with amazing characters, while still managing humor and diversity. While there were a few info-dumps, usually happening at the beginning of a chapter, I never saw them as inconvenient or boring. They were actually well incorporated, being weaved into the narrative with little effort.

Diverse and interesting characters

Within this book, there are a lot of allusions to discrimination. Belters (people who were born and live in the Asteroid Belt) are seen as lesser then those who live on Earth or Mars. The Belters have adopted their own lingo, a mixture of Spanish, German, sign language, and countless more.

In addition to that, of the main “crew”, two are POC. Later on in the series, there are multiple gay/lesbian people, a disabled main character. Multiple important characters are POC in Leviathan Wakes, so don’t think that there is no diversity in this first one. The diversity only gets better.

All of the characters in The Expanse are so complex and interesting. Holden is the righteous character, while Miller is the grey, “chaotic good” character. These two did not mix well, but the eventual relationship that formed between these two is so meaningful. Naomi Nagata, Alex Kamal, Amos Burton–every last character was so unique and entertaining, that I found it hard to hate any of them. Even the bad ones!

Final Rating: ★★★★★


I’m so glad that I decided to reread this series. Rereading it, everything came back so much more emotional and intense. That, however, doesn’t mean that the first read won’t be 5-star-worthy. (My rating from this reread hasn’t changed from my first read.)

Would I Recommend?

If you’re looking for a diverse, intense space opera, The Expanse is the series for you. It’s complex, it has aliens, and politics. I don’t know when to not recommend this book. I will always recommend it.

Additional Information:

Published: June 2nd, 2011

Publisher: Orbit

Page Count: 582

Genre: Science Fiction/Space Opera

Synopsis: via Goodreads

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.

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