Leviathan Wakes is a story that starts small but grows larger without ever losing focus of its core element: the characters. While the authors do present a rich setting for the story with wild action, its strongest feature is the cast. The characters in the story are very deep and compelling. From their run ins with space hijacking to extragalactic horrors, their thoughts and emotions steer the way for a thrilling adventure.
There are three main characters in the story. First up is Jim Holden, an ex-naval officer turned executive officer on a commercial ice hauler. Jim makes a living off running crucial water resources to the Belt; the outer colonies in our solar systems. But things go wrong for Jim and his crew when they run into a mysterious ship. Then there’s Miller, a Belter cop living on the fringe and watching the solar system go to chaos. One wrong thing leads to another for Miller, and things get ever more complicated as he digs into a mysterious case. Lastly is the mystery girl herself, Julie Mao. She’s the first character introduced and the puzzle piece that brings together Holden and Miller. Even though her page time is limited, her role in the story proves to be very significant.
The book has a lot of good elements working for it. It has well crafted prose that flows smoothly off the page. The storytelling has good pacing and dialog that really brings out the personality in the characters. There are good descriptions of the environments that help keep the scenes easily imaginable even when the setting is beyond anything humans have yet to achieve. The plot is interwoven in a way that keeps the narrative going with intrigue and suspense. At first there is minimal action, but that changes as the story builds. It’s compelling and holds your interest. Plus it gets good really quick.
If I had to compare the story to something else, I’d say it’s a mix between David Weber’s Honor Harrington series and Timothy Zahn’s novel The Icarus Hunt. With Honor Harrington, there’s that nice, expansive feel of this giant space setting between different governments. There’s that element of intriguing politics but there’s also that touch of science and military action. With The Icarus Hunt, there’s that smaller scope with a detective bent. In both cases, there’s strong characters. Leviathan Wakes shares some of those traits, but with more grit and a touch of horror.
As a pretty big sci-fi fan, I thought Leviathan Wakes was a great read. The characters easily swept me away and the story kept me entertained all the way to the end. While this is the first story in a series, it does a good job of feeling complete and satisfying. I give it a five out of five metal bikinis.