This review contains spoilers.
Leviathan Wakes (or Leviathan Awakes, as the narrator calls it for some reason) is a solid work of sci-fi, providing interesting flawed characters thrust into an insane situation that just spirals further and further out of control (with their help) in a setting ripe for exploration. Everyone has their own agenda, and everyone thinks they’re doing the right/best thing.
Unlike most “space opera” the events of this book are almost entirely within and between the orbits of Mars and the asteroid belt, both of which have been colonized. However not all is happy within the human family. The Belt, Mars, and Earth are all antagonistic toward one another. Toss in some amoral interplanetary megacorps, and you’ve got a powder keg ready to blow, and like any good author, James S.A. Corey knows when to light a match.
The main protagonists are Miller and Holden. One is an old drunk detective obsessing about a case, the other is an ideological XO of an ice hauler out in the belt. Together, they might just save the human race. Plus they kind of hate each other.
The book takes it's time getting to the main point, though you don't realize it because it's so well done. About half way through the book the the 2 billion year old alien threat that’s the real catalyst behind most of the major events is finally introduced. It turns out that Phoebe, the moon of Saturn, is actually a ballistic shot fired 2 billion plus years ago at Earth. Contained within it is a super virus that was designed to rewrite the DNA of the single celled life just beginning to form, and turn it into something different...
Saturn got in the way, and we were left to develop on our own. Then a scientific team found it, with predictable results.
All in all I really enjoyed this book. There was a lot to enjoy, and the setting is delightfully rich, and while it's a little on the long side, it never drags. It isn’t “hard” sci-fi, but it’s pretty firm, and the comparison to Firefly and Cowboy Bebop isn't too far off. I’m definitely going to have to see what the next book in the series has to offer. My biggest complaint with the book had little to do with the book itself, but with the narrator. I’d definitely recommend skipping the audiobook, and reading a dead tree or e-book version.