SFF Read Alongs: Leviathan Wakes, Part 1

It’s back! SFF Read Alongs has returned this month, with a science fiction offering this time! Join us as we take on the first book of The Expanse.

This week we’re covering chapters 1 to 14. Spoiler alert!



Humanity has colonised the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is an officer on 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 Jim 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 sympathiser Holden, he realises that this girl may hold 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.


Banner by Sarah at The Illustrated Page


First impressions! We’re given two main POVs here, a lot of important information, and a big fat (intriguingly political) murder mystery in space. What’s your take on the setup so far?

The story comes across as a bit of a mashup of styles – you’ve got your space opera, with planetary governments and corporations in space and rebel alliances, but we get a more intimate narrative (so far) thanks to the choice of protagonists, and there’s a pleasing sense of something noirish about it from Detective Miller’s POV thanks to the Julie Mao case. I enjoy all of those aspects, so I definitely got into this story right away.

On the flip side, and this is a general observation about my reading habits rather than an outright criticism of the book, I did find myself struggling a little bit to take in all of the information we’re given. I like a good political tangle as much as anyone, but I do often find that when the Important Details are clearly being given the most focus, I have to work harder to keep everything straight in my mind. I’m managing so far, but it’s forcing me to read more slowly than I generally like, heh! That said, I’ll keep at it, because this is really interesting stuff.


Regarding the narrative: we get the bulk of the story so far from the POVs of Miller and Holden. What do you think of each character, and how do you think they compare to one another? Do you think their paths might cross or are we looking at more of a Game of Thrones style approach to the story’s arc? For that matter, which might you prefer?

I think these two in particular are interesting choices in terms of delivering the story from their POV. Obviously their lives and their worlds are very far apart – Miller’s on the ground, so to speak, right there amongst all the people on Ceres who are being affected by the hard changes and the threats coming down on them. Holden, on the other hand, is sort of on the front lines, however unwittingly. So right away you have two very different perspectives on the same broad scenario, but what’s interesting to me is that I suspect both men are more alike than they might seem. Miller is very much the jaded cop (complete with absent ex-wife and apparent drinking problem, there’s that noir influence again) thanks to his work, while I get the impression that Holden has enough physical distance from the Ceres situation to have a broader view of it, albeit one that’s probably less realistic compared to Miller’s. Case in point: his broadcast following the attack on the Canterbury. While it makes sense to sound an alarm when you’re attacked in space and are probably facing death out there otherwise, I can also see why his gut-reaction response has pissed so many people off. From a political standpoint, and from Miller’s, it’s done nothing but cause problems – but these are all problems that Holden himself doesn’t have to deal with, even if that’s only a matter of circumstance.

As for whether or not their paths will cross, I’m guessing that’s a long way down the line if it happens at all. As for the ‘Game of Thrones’ approach … I’ll be honest, I’m hoping things don’t get nearly so grim. I say that as someone who had to walk away from the GoT TV show for a while, so … yeah. Please don’t. But so far, I am enjoying getting both sides of this story because it really broadens the perspective on it, so I wouldn’t mind so much if Miller and Holden don’t come together (unless they have to, and I’m betting things would get super dramatic before that happened!).


Let’s talk about Julie Mao, and THAT prologue. Given what we know about her by the end of chapter 14, do you think Julie might just be a victim of circumstance or is she more deeply involved in whatever is going on?



Anyway! Julie’s part of the story is super interesting so far, because all we can really do is speculate, but I do suspect that the answer to this question is sort of somewhere in the middle? I think she was involved in whatever the OPA is up to, but somehow I doubt she would want to be part of anything that results in … whatever the hell happened to the rest of the Scopuli crew. If that is even connected to the OPA’s activities elsewhere. At this point I still have way more questions than answers, especially about Julie, but I am deeply interested to find things out – despite being really squicked by that prologue. Did I mention I was squicked by that prologue? Because I was.



Chapter 14 ends with Miller contacting Julie’s father; do you think his hunch about dear old Dad knowing some things is right, or should he listen to Shaddid on this one?

This sort of brings me back to the point about Miller and Holden being more alike than they seem – this decision on Miller’s part shows him to be someone who isn’t quite so jaded that he’ll ignore a sense of something Not Right about the orders he’s being given. Both men are constrained by their circumstances, but I see that sort of ‘follow your gut’ tendency showing in both of them, and with Miller it’s all about finding Julie, or at least finding out what’s been going on with her. As for what I think he should do … I think he’s on the right track, though of course I also think it’s going to get him in a whole truckload of trouble. You do your thing, Miller.


5 thoughts on “SFF Read Alongs: Leviathan Wakes, Part 1

  1. SQUICKED. I mean, I was all for admiring that it was dark and gritty, and then it. just. got. worse.

    And I totally wasn’t expecting the Aliens moment at the end.


    I fear for Julie Mao. And I really want her to come back and kick some ass.

  2. Yes! I agree, the Miller story line definitely has a noir detective feel to it. And you’re right, I can see why Holden’s actions make sense from his POV and yet have pissed off lots and lots of people.

    I now love the word ‘squicked’ and I will endeavor to use it in my daily dealings. Example: My cat’s dingleberries squicked me out!

  3. I was also squicked out by the prologue. That thing was so gross!

    I think there’s a lot of important plot details I’m also not paying attention too. Maybe I should start making lists of questions? I did that for the Split Worlds Read Along, and I think it helped.

    1. I think that approach would probably have helped me, now that you mention it. I’m really into the storyline but it does feel a bit chewy – there is definitely a lot of information to keep track of, at least for me. We shall see how I do!

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