There is a blurb from io9.com on the cover of my copy of James S. A. Corey's Leviathan Wakes:
As close as you'll get to a Hollywood blockbuster in book form
it says. It's a weird thing to write. Is it praise? I assume it's praise…
Anyway, I didn't buy the book for that blurb. I got it for the nice cover art by Daniel Dociu and orbit (see that enough times in the book shops, and it'll start teasing your imagination) and after hearing an interview with Ty Franck (one half of the duo - the other being Daniel Abraham - behind the pen-name James S. A. Corey) over at the excellent Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast . I was in the mood for space ships adventure and action, and that's what I got. Also zombies which made the story feel dated, and me tired at first. Luckily it is not really like that, and they are far from focus, mostly used as a horror element. The story does holds quite well. Ah, yes the story. We have two protagonists: Jim Holden: former Earth Space Navy officer, now working on a far from glamorous water hauler in the asteroid belt; and Miller: an down on his luck detective picked from the noir genre (including the hat and drinking problem) in the private security forces of Ceres.
Levitahan Wakes plays out in the asteroid belt, in a somewhat hard science fiction setting (with an artistic license of course, but it is not space opera). Humans have space travel for the planets, but not the starts. Earth is overpopulated, the moon colonized, Mars terraforming underway, and the hollowed out cities of the asteroid belt hosts the slums of the solar system.
There are tensions between Earth, Mars, and the Belt of course, and when there is an attack on a Belt-bound water-freighter (where Holden is working), talk of war is heard. At the same time, something strange is happening on Ceres and Miller gets an extra assignment on top of everything else: find the daughter of a rich earth family and bring her home. Not caring about it at first, he becomes obsessed with his new case. It is all connected of course, and in interleaving chapters Miller and Holden moves s closer and closer to the truth and each other.
The story is straight forward, though perhaps the plot is a bit convoluted at time, but the book is packing action and conflict. And while it does so rather than exploring ideas, some interesting concepts are present. I hope Corey will follow up on these in future books. Leviathan Wakes is an entertaining mix of space opera, light horror, film noir, and humor. So, yes, perhaps io9.com was right. Hollywood. Though I'd say that is flattering to most Hollywood movies.