This Week, I Read… (2018 #17)

60 - Leviathan Wakes

#60 – Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A. Corey

I was a show-watcher first, and I can’t fully separate my experience of that from reading the book. I saw the actors’ faces and heard their voices as I read.

However, I’m confident in saying that even if I had read the book first, I still would have adored it.

Aside from hand-waving some of the medicinal advancements (what the hell kind of drug would save Miller and Holden from otherwise-lethal radiation exposure? but hey, it’s the future) this takes an incredibly hard tack on the science in science fiction. Physics aren’t ignored in favor of travel speed, as they are in so many other space-going settings. Everything in this feels real, at times uncomfortably so.

And our heroes get hurt. They get irradiated, shot, their bones broken, their bodies compressed by high g’s. There is almost always danger, and our heroes don’t escape from it unscathed. Which I love.

Two things were definitely portrayed better in the book than in the television adaptation, for me: Miller’s inner life, which makes both his slow spiral downward and his obsession with/love for Julie much more understandable; and the complicated relationship between Holden and Naomi. In the show, I felt their “love” story was rushed and lacking a solid ground to stand on–in the book, it’s much better developed.

Also, having been a show-watcher first, I was astounded to see how faithful the adaptation was. Yes, a few minor things were changed here and there (most notably the relative balance between how often Miller’s two security partners were around–Muss was basically nonexistent in the book compared to the show, while Havelock seemed much more prominent.) It was only when I got to the end and saw that the author name is a pseudonym for a writing team who also were heavily involved in adapting their work for the screen that it all made sense.

And another thing–the pacing was killer. I was halfway through the book before I realized that the show scenes happening on the inner planets weren’t a part of this story at all. Where was Chrisjen, one of my favorite characters? But apparently that’s all in book 2, and I definitely see the wisdom of adapting the two stories to run concurrently. No shame on the book at all, because following the Miller/Holden antics all the way through to Venus made a hell of a lot of sense on the page.

Basically, it’s fantastic, and it makes me want to re-watch the first two seasons of the show (I haven’t started the third yet) as well as immediately dive into the second book (which I don’t yet own, sadly.)

Do you like space opera? Interesting and often deeply flawed characters? Hard science instead of technobabble? READ THIS BOOK.

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