Okay, let me start this third post in the GeekyNerdy Book Club by saying that I’ve really enjoyed all three of the books we’ve read so far. Each one has been very different from the last, which has helped keep things interesting. That said, Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey was a real trip!
First of all, it took me a little while to get into the swing of things and I actually had to restart it after I took a quick break to read Masque, a breezy retelling of Beauty and the Beast (thanks for the recommendation Mei-Mei!). A few chapters in though, I was hooked and got really nervous about spoiling anything, so I consciously avoided any synopses of the other books in the series, just in the off-chance that they might reveal something about Leviathan that I hadn’t read yet! (I’m a little less paranoid about that now.)
I was also a bit distracted by the incorrect pluralizations of words ending in “-s” (admittedly, a tough thing to get right) and Corey’s near-constant use of “he said, she said” to set off his dialogue. (After listening to Carole Barrowman caution against this kind of phrasing during a panel on writing at this year’s AwesomeCon, I don’t think I’ll be able to not notice that!)
Overall though, Leviathan Wakes was a really fun read. It was well-paced, and the author’s (technically, authors’) decision to alternate each chapter between the two main characters often left me wanting to read more, just so I could get back to the other story line! There were also several moments when I was convinced that I knew where the story was headed and then it went in a completely different direction! It was slightly maddening, but I really appreciated the fact that I was kept guessing.
I was also intrigued by the fact that the book asked, or at least posed, some rather provocative and philosophical questions about the nature of humanity and humans’ role/place in the universe, as well as secrecy and the need for greater transparency.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think books can’t ask some of these more complicated questions. It’s just that I wasn’t expecting them from a space opera!
1/2. For example, the first question that came to mind as I was reading Leviathan Wakes came early on, when I got to Detective Miller’s description of everything passing through Ceres’ ports on page 19. While it’s a little unclear if all of those goods were being delivered to Ceres to keep it going or were just on the “road” to somewhere else, to know that foods, metals, and even power sources had to be transported across the solar system made me wonder: Is it really worth it? And if, in the future, we are able to sustain life on some distant planet, would you be one of the people “to boldly go where no man has gone before?”
Personally, my answers are no and no. That’s mostly because 1) it seems like it would be extremely expensive, especially if most of your common goods are being shipped in from millions of miles away, and 2) I’ve always been more likely to ask, “Just because we can, should we?,” than to say, “Sign me up!” But as Captain James Holden notes on page 513, humans are “curious monkeys,” so I understand the desire to reach for the stars and see what things like the protomolecule can do. And I likely would be interested to see the results too; I just wouldn’t be in the vanguard of figuring it out!
3. I was also struck by Miller’s internal debate on page 284 about when someone stops being human. After shooting several of the thugs posing as security officers on Eros, and subsequently reviewing his actions (at Holden’s prompting), Miller thinks that there must be some sort of moment, some singular decision, that marks the change, but I wonder if it is really all that clear cut. As someone who has never, thank goodness, been in a life-or-death situation, I really can’t answer that except to say, I think it depends. I’m sure there are certain actions/moments that are so horrific that you can never go back, while there are others – for instance, war – that could eat away at someone’s soul slowly and be more like a “death by a thousand cuts.”
4. Corey uses Holden and Miller as great foils for each other throughout the book, but I was most struck by their conversation about transparency on pages 328–9. Miller, as a now former detective, argues that one should wait to say anything on anything until he/she has all of the facts. Holden retorts that he’s not building a case and that “if everyone knows everything, nothing stays secret.”
While it seems pretty straightforward to ask you who you think is right, truthfully, I come down somewhere in the middle on this. I certainly agree with Holden (and Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis) that sunlight is the best disinfectant, when it comes to matters of war, Miller has a point and being more circumspect with your findings is likely the safer, better option.
But what about you? What sorts of questions ran across your mind as you read Leviathan Wakes? Where some of them similar to the ones I had, or did they go in a completely different direction? Please share in the comments below!
Lastly, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our next read and while I normally give you guys a few options, this time, I’m making an executive decision! For September, we will be reading Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman. This is another book that I’ve started and stopped, but I really do want to finish it! And with the trailer for the Wonder Woman movie dropping at Comic Con last week, it seemed like an appropriate choice. Plus, it’s out in paperback! So come back here on September 8 for that discussion, and as always, feel free to share any additional recommendations that you may have!