Review: Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan WakesI purchased this ebook when the first season of the television adaptation aired, but didn’t get around to reading it until a recent vacation. I’ve seen three seasons of the show so far, so that will obviously color my interpretation of the book (such as visualizing actors as their characters and such). My husband and I have been telling people that The Expanse is the best science-fiction on TV for years, so I’m happy to say that the book is also some of the best science-fiction I’ve read in years.

Corey makes excellent use of science in portraying a “realistic” near-future solar system, and I appreciate the small details in the writing that really bring the differences between the “inner planet” and “Belter” characters to life, both in terms of physicality and mental ways of viewing life and and living in space.

The book features a narrower look at solar system-altering events, so part of me wishes I’d been able to experience that perspective. The television show broadens things by introducing some characters earlier and giving us their viewpoints. On the other hand, it was cool to see important moments from Holden and Miller’s perspectives and note Aversarala’s hand in things before I technically knew her as a book character.

The television show doesn’t shy away from darker moments, but some visual effects diminish the horror of the protomolecual Corey infused in the text. The show does, however, do a good job of portraying the noir-esque elements of Miller’s hunt for Julie Mao, even as his obsession with the missing girl in the book takes on creepier elements.

In short: If you like the show, read the book. If you liked the book, watch the show. There aren’t many adaptations I can say that about with such surety, so it’s nice to be able to make the proclamation.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Published by steelvictory

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. Her debut novel, STEEL VICTORY, was her thesis novel for Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction graduate program in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Previously, she was one of the co-editors for FAR WORLDS, a speculative fiction anthology. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (, on Facebook (, and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits). She is currently working on more tales set in the world of Limani.

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