Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Hyper-real, imaginative, far-reaching.

You’ve probably seen The Expanse on Amazon Prime Video by now. But, even if you have, the James S. A. Corey duo, have penned a masterwork novel series, beginning with Leviathan Wakes, a rousing must-read book to kick off your free dive into this mind-expanding space opera.

The characters are unique and the traits they portray are in depth. Pulling in language and regional nuances from across Earth, the writers have captured multi-culturalist pluralism and infused a blend of these into all his characters. And they go deep into expression. Not just the main character Holden, but each of the many primary characters has flavor that pops during narrative scene descriptions or dialogue rendition.

Science fiction is replete with military themes and deep space adventures that may be well written, but few reach the ability to keep a reader on edge and anticipating the excitement of every page turn as this first book of the series. And the paperback is just about 600 pages long. So, schedule this book up from your TBR list during a long weekend or holiday, when you know you can remain in your jammies and live off pizza and coffee. You’re not even going to want to go around the corner because this book is going to keep you stuck to a spot for hours on end.

The astrophysics is spot on with the occasional creative liberty being taken. It is fiction after all. The technology concepts are pathbreaking but rooted in reality. There’s Earth and interplanetary politics woven in without being overbearing. While the show paints in broad swathes, this book really helps put perspective to nuances of The Expanse. With Mars colonization being front and center in current news, a possible conflict between planets and miners in the main asteroid belt (and deeper in the solar system), seems quite natural to consider. My take: this is definitely amongst the best science fiction series books of all time.

The main character James Holden who’s thrust into the forefront through a series of circumstances, many of which he willingly jumps into, frontier-style. Seemingly intelligent, crafty and backed by a ton of luck, Holden is like an adventurer with an acute moral compass; a trait that’s often tested to the limit of anyone’s strength. He’s prone to failure, often just about scraping by between plot twists. He’s constantly struggling and yet overcoming highly stressful and yet thrilling situations. But he’s not alone while dealing with the endless series of twists. Holden makes a bunch of exceptionally close friends, who support and follow him through every maddening new escapade.

Incidentally, James S. A. Corey is a pen name of the author duo Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, both of whom live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Daniel himself is a prolific and highly acclaimed fantasy fiction writer.