Probably not the same thing.
But I did realize that my last attempt at reading a "space opera", The Warrior's Apprentice, left me distinctly underwhelmed.
So, if not for Audible, this book was probably a Lifer. By that I mean a book that will just sit on my radar forever, but never actually get picked up and read -- at least not for a long, long time. I have lots of these, unfortunately. There are just too many books, and too little time in the day. (If only my job would stop being so insistent that I show up!)
How did Audible, that evil (MWAHAHAHA!) Amazon company, factor in you ask? Well, not only did they give me a $10.00 credit for my 1 year anniversary of having an account with them (woohoo! free money!), but then they also put this audiobook on sale for $4.95. So Audible bought me this audiobook. And it rocked. Thanks, Audible!
So let's get down to business and talk about how much I loved this book.
Wait, wait... no... I was right before. This much:
Because I loved The Fifth Element, and I loved Leviathan Wakes.
This book had everything. Great, believable, and realistic characters, an interesting plot, fantastic scope and worldbuilding, just the right amount of plausibility to make it terrifying, brilliant humor that was perfectly timed and hit just the right notes to make me laugh out loud, and it had what were awesomely called 'vomit zombies'.
In fact, the only thing I can find to criticize, and it's more of a nitpick, is the overabundance of saids peppering the narrative. Holden said, Miller said, Naomi said, Fred said, Amos said, etc etc etc. Listening to the many saids being read was a little tedious, but only occasionally; it was mainly noticeable during long stretches of pure dialogue.
Otherwise, I loved everything about this book, and the reading. The reader did a great job at letting the story do the talking, and despite only getting to listen to this in small chunks at a time, I was engrossed in the story.
I loved the characters, and especially enjoyed the way that the two main characters, Holden and Miller, interacted with each other. They are from different sides of the personality spectrum, with two completely different ways of handling a situation, but when the shit (or the zombie vomit) hits the fan, they effortlessly slip into "Let's discuss this when we aren't dead" mode, and just kick ass. I loved it. I thought they complemented each other wonderfully, and the arc of their working relationship was realistic and understandable, from both sides.
Which brings me to the dual narrative. This story is told by alternating viewpoint chapters, and I thought it worked perfectly. We get to see things from two different perspectives, and it allows for so much more story information to be conveyed without huge info-dumps. I liked the noir detective story feel of Miller's chapters, and it contrasted nicely to the more high-tech, adventure feel of Holden's chapters. And then when they run into each other and become a sort of hybrid, I loved that, too.
Speaking of the technology, I thought it was brilliant. We've colonized other planets, and moons, and we can mine ice from Saturn's rings, and travel through space at 7+ Gs. The methods of combating nausea and blackouts during travel at these speeds is interesting, and plausible. The technology that allows us to live on little rocks millions of miles away from the sun is fascinating. But it's still familiar, in a way. RADAR and LADAR are things I've heard of. It's not too much of a stretch to get from where we are now, to where this story shows us in just a few short centuries.
The Protogen project is also plausible, and frankly terrifying, as is the reaction to it. I was totally Team Miller on this one, despite usually landing on Holden's side of the opinional axis. I shudder to think of situations like the ones depicted in this book, and can't help but think that it would happen exactly like this if it were to one day come to pass. I would hope that we've learned from past mistakes... but we don't. This is not-too-distant-future, where we've colonized the solar system, but we're still human. Racism and bigotry is larger scale, because our bodies have adapted to living off-earth, but our minds are still stuck in the 'us vs them' small-town mode, and now we just have more differences to divide us.
But I digress. I loved this book. I loved the world(s), and the characters, and, well, everything. This worked perfectly as a stand-alone novel, but I definitely cannot wait to read more of this series.