Leviathan Wakes

I've been intrigued about this book ever since they announced its release. I figured that anything George R. R. Martin labeled "kickass space opera" would be right up my alley!

The fact that I was a bit underwhelmed by Daniel Abraham's The Dragon's Path made me hesitate for a moment or two, but this was a collaboration I had to read. And a good thing too, for Leviathan Wakes turned out to be one of this year's best reads for me! The novel basically has everything one can look for in a space opera title.

Here's the blurb:

Welcome to the future. 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

The worldbuilding was awesome, and I can't wait for the subsequent installments to learn more about Earth, Mars, the Belt, and the political power struggle between the three. I know I claimed that Abraham's take on politicking was sort of weak in The Dragon's Path, but it's the total opposite in Leviathan Wakes. I loved how Abraham and Franck handled the political aspects of the various plotlines, as well as how they threw the Protogen corporation into the mix.

Although it is definitely a science fiction story from the start, I loved how they turned the early portions of the book into some sort of noir detective story. Miller's storyline, which seemed a bit out of place at the beginning, becomes pivotal to the rest of the tale as the plot moves forward. But there is no question that the noir elements gave Leviathan Wakes a different flavor, kind of something like Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon but on a much grander scale.

It takes quite a while for the story to finally make sense, yet that's all part of the fun. Leviathan Wakes is like a rollercoaster ride and you never know what's going to hit you next. As the truth is unveiled, albeit little by little, a number of "fuck me" moments keep you turning those pages, unable to resist the lure of discovering more.

The characterization is probably my favorite facet of the novel. Do-gooder Holden and disillusioned cop Miller create a wonderful balance of points of view. Most of the narrative is told from their perspectives, and the authors did a good job of playing one against the other. Seeing events unfold through two sets of such disparate eyes ultimately gave the book its flavor. Clearly, this is not a story that would have worked as well using a neutral narrator.

At times, the pace might appear a bit crooked, as we fail to understand exactly what is taking place or why. Just buckle up and enjoy the ride! Though you may feel lost sometimes, there is never a dull moment from start to finish. Abraham and Franck pulled a few rabbits out of their hats, surprising me time and time again. Indeed, every time you feel as though you have a grasp on what's going on, they pull the rug from under your feet.

Leviathan Wakes will definitively be one of the speculative fiction titles to read in 2011! Could well be the science fiction book of the year!

Highly recommended.

The final verdict: 8.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

6 commentaires:

Aidan Moher said...

"Clearly, this is not a story that would have worked as well using a third person narrative."

Erm... the novel is written using third-person narrative.

Patrick said...

Crap, you're right! I meant neutral narrator.

That's what happens when you write reviews late at night in hostels!

Clem said...

What the hell is a neutral narrator? Like third-person objective?

Ty said...

Third person omniscient is my guess.

Jebus said...

Just finished this last night and fucking LOVED it. Favourite book I've read this year.

shaneo52 said...

Hey Pat, I'm about to finish up Van Name's One Jump Ahead, good read, you read him? What would you read next, Hurley's Infidel, Leviathan Wakes, or Black Lung Captain?