A very solid 10/10.
I can’t say that this one is like DUNE but it ain’t far away.
Oops. I have to settle something straight right now: I am a huge DUNE fan and for me, the Dune series is the most important book ever. The immense immersive universe created by Frank Herbert is so stunning that if there is just ONE book (ok, series of books) that I am willing to take with me on an empty island for the rest of my life, it will be Dune. And I have to mention that I already read the entire Dune series like 100 times at least (nope, no kidding) and I am still finding new stuff each time. And by the way, Villeneuve new film? It will suck, marks my words and it will be hated by all the Dune die-hard fans.
Now back to The Expanse.
Now not so quick tho:))))
So, there is Dune. There is also Foundation. As books and big huge series ( that’s why I don’t put here Ray Bradbury or Philip K. Dick). There is Peter Hamilton and his crazy universe full of zombies (The Night’s Dawn Trilogy). I almost forgot Arthur C. Clarke and his number of space odysseys. Also on TV series, we can mention Star Trek ( yeah, huge Trekkie here also)
Battlestar Galactica (huge show) and to a certain limit also Star Wars. Most of them have something in common: there is something which is totally impossible or improbable for the moment: Dune – spice, seeing the future. Foundation- damn psychics foreseeing and planning the future. Hamilton – zombie souls taking over the living. Clarke- giant space baby? LOL. Star Trek – Q anyone? Battlestar Galactica – human cyborgs or so? Star Wars? Oooook, let’s all go together in this one “Use the force, Luke”.
Finally, the book.
After binging the show on TV, I’ve started to read the books and I truly love this one. No warp, no freaking dark force, no weird gods whatsoever, and no flowing spice, lol, just some pure science fiction. I do not know about space opera and shit, nor do I care about this kind of definition. All I know is that the author managed to build a very credible universe while respecting the laws of physics with very little technobabble, with characters that you can resonate with. And what I love the most is this sense of honesty: we are humans. And in a couple of years from now, we’ll still be humans, with all our flaws and problems, no matter if we will be from Mars, Earth, or Belters. We will love, hate, plot and still be racist bastards and thriving for our personal wealth. And swearing will still be swearing, with fucks raining all over the place and conflict between humans will be as normal and expected as it is today. No paradise and certainly no promise of such a place. Space is space, expect a quick death of a meteorite or a slow painfully long one due to lack of oxygen. Also, I love the honesty in technology and spaceships. Yes, there is an Epstein drive because well, we still have to travel somehow a little bit faster than today but the space is still huge and gravity unforgiving.
So far so good, I recognize humanity as it is now and how it will still be in a couple of hundred years from now. It is a universe familiar, credible and which is immersive. I can picture myself as part of it without too many troubles or efforts. And this is what I like most about this book: it is really relatable, common and easy to get used to.
Now the characters: Holden. Man, I love this guy, with his Don Quijote alike persona. Always thriving for the good, for the greater cause and the correct cause. No wonder the ship is named Rocinante. Yeah, I know, it’s obvious to have Don Quijote in mind but it is an aspect worth notice considering how many troubles Holden will get into because of him being what it is. A fool always aiming for the good. And he is the only one so far without a shady past. Maybe Alex comes as close as possible from this point of view. Amos and especially Naomi are perfect examples of past being left in shadows, no wonder these 2 are getting along so well. While none of them are saints nor devils, they are all really credible and I didn’t manage to find any real flaws in characters, anything to make them less credible, or at least nothing so obvious so I can say “oh, c’mon, this is pure crap”.
All of them can be your friendly neighbor ( ok, not Amos but if you are a good guy you’ll get along anyway) with which you can have some beers on a Saturday night while watching sports. Also, none of them will hesitate to keep you at gunpoint if needed (ok, maybe not Holden but Amos for sure will smile happily while Naomi and Alex will be like “just business as usual, no hard feeling, right”?). Even Miller, no matter how weird he will go, is still that guy who can be trusted, and yeah, I a finding him OK too.
And now for the plot, while not going too much in details I have to say that is really damn good and again, credible. Possible. Plausible. Corporations doing their dirty stuff while the poor are trying to avoid getting even poorer, belters fighting for their rights and especially for self-determination, usual guys doing whatever usual guys are doing for a living, all these are credible. Nothing is out of the ordinary, even the “protomolecule” and how the bad guys are trying to get the advantage of it (What’s the difference between protomolecule and some chemicals or bioagents of our days? The genocide on Eros? Let’s not forget the genocide from the WW2 or others less known). But I have to say that I’ve loved the space battles. The physics of space being respected to the letter. The deadly space being deadly.
So this book overall is credible. Is relatable and despite being space opera or something alike I really liked it and I was not able to find any flaws in it. For me, the TV series was damn good but I’ve never expected to find such an incredibly good book series so for now, The Expanse is somewhere in my personal top 3 together with Dune and Foundation. Also, there is not too much technobabble (“Warp 9 speed Mr. Data so we can overcome that tachyon field tampering with our subspace inverters!” What the…?) so it is really easy to read considering that it took me less than 7 hours to read this one. Looking forward to the next books and hopefully, they will be at least as good as Leviathan Wakes.