Leviathan Wakes can be described as space opera, but it’s not typical of the genre. The scope is smaller and the story does not span generations. The reader does not require a glossary of terms or an extensive chart of characters and their relationships. A timeline is not necessary. What this means is that ‘Leviathan Wakes’ is easy to read. There is no flipping back and forth to refresh your memory or decode the language. What you see is what you get and what you get is a good mix of space opera, military Science Fiction, mystery, horror, police procedural and character drama all in one book.
The story starts with a stomach churning mystery. I mean the seriously sinister and gross kind of churn. Then we meet the main cast. James Holden is the second officer of a merchant marine type vessel, an ice hauler that carries delivers water from asteroids to the stations throughout the Belt.
This is probably where I should point out that The Belt is the one in our solar system. It’s the line that divides the inner planets from outer planets, most of which are stations built into stable moons and other convenient chunks of rock. The Belt is more a divide than a line. Those born outside, in artificial gravity, are called Belters and their bodies reflect the difference. They are tall and thin and because of the time spent in suits, they gesture differently. They speak a patois only they understand. To someone from Earth, they are foreign. Almost alien.
The outer planets rely heavily on resources from the inner planets. They are not independent and, perhaps more importantly, they are continually reminded of that fact. Understandably, tension exists between the two ‘factions’.