Top Ten Tuesday: Books to read if you loved The Expanse

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Okay, okay, okay, I admit it: I’ve only read the first two books, so this post is going to be based upon Leviathan Wakes, the first book.

Leviathan Wakes has literally everything I ever wanted in a science fiction series: high-stakes, sweeping scope juxtaposed with the tense, often claustrophobic off-Earth habitats with flawed but entirely human characters faced with awful decisions, and, of course, a mystery embedded into the core of the story that turns into a conspiracy that could quite literally spell the end of humanity.

Because this is such a popular series (and tv show), there have been a lot of lists recommending what to read after you’ve read this series.

So here’re my recommendations on what to read if you, like me, read the first book (and maybe the second), and love everything about it but good gravy that’s an awful lot of chonk to commit to. Those books are huge.

This list is for us. The commitment-phobes. The lovers of the short(ish) reads filled with the blazing glory of The Expanse series, a manageable page-count and a definitive end-point (if in a series, the books are no longer than a trilogy). The readers interested in the slightly lesser known stories, which is why you’re not going to see Scalzi, Liu, Tchaikovsky or Reynolds on this list.

Blurbs are from Goodreads. The books listed all have less than 10,000 reviews on Goodreads.

The Books

First Sister by Linden Lewis

First Sister has no name and no voice. As a priestess of the Sisterhood, she travels the stars alongside the soldiers of Earth and Mars—the same ones who own the rights to her body and soul. When her former captain abandons her, First Sister’s hopes for freedom are dashed when she is forced to stay on her ship with no friends, no power, and a new captain—Saito Ren—whom she knows nothing about. She is commanded to spy on Captain Ren by the Sisterhood, but soon discovers that working for the war effort is so much harder to do when you’re falling in love.

Dead Space by Kali Wallace

Hester Marley used to have a plan for her life. But when a catastrophic attack left her injured, indebted, and stranded far from home, she was forced to take a dead-end security job with a powerful mining company in the asteroid belt. Now she spends her days investigating petty crimes to help her employer maximize its profits. She’s surprised to hear from an old friend and fellow victim of the terrorist attack that ruined her life—and that surprise quickly turns to suspicion when he claims to have discovered something shocking about their shared history and the tragedy that neither of them can leave behind.

Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson

The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having traveled light-years to bring one thousand sleeping souls to a new home among the stars. But when first mate Michelle Campion rouses, she discovers some of the sleepers will never wake. Answering Campion’s distress call, investigator Rasheed Fin is tasked with finding out who is responsible for these deaths. Soon a sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel, one that will have repercussions for the entire system—from the scheming politicians of Lagos station, to the colony planet Bloodroot, to other far-flung systems, and indeed to Earth itself.

Behind the Throne by KB Wagers

Quick, sarcastic, and lethal, Hailimi Bristol doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She has made a name for herself in the galaxy for everything except what she was born to do: rule the Indranan Empire. That is, until two Trackers drag her back to her home planet to take her rightful place as the only remaining heir. But trading her ship for a palace has more dangers than Hail could have anticipated. Caught in a web of plots and assassination attempts, Hail can’t do the one thing she did twenty years ago: run away. She’ll have to figure out who murdered her sisters if she wants to survive.

Stars Uncharted by SK Dunstall

Josune’s captain sends her to infiltrate Roystan’s ship, promising to follow. But when the Hassim exits nullspace close to Roystan’s ship, it’s out of control, the crew are dead, and unknown Company operatives are trying to take over. Narrowly escaping and wounded, Roystan and Josune come to Nika for treatment–and with problems of her own, she flees with them after the next Company attack. Now they’re in a race to find the lost world…and stay alive long enough to claim the biggest prize in the galaxy. 

Skeen’s Leap by Jo Clayton

Skeen is a bandit and a rogue, a master thief wanted throughout myriad solar systems for plundering the rare antiquities of countless alien civilizations while always keeping one rocket ship–length ahead of the intergalactic law. A “rooner” with a dark past, she now finds herself penniless and abandoned on a miserable backwater planet, at the tail end of a string of very bad luck, with no option except to follow unreliable rumors to a supposed fortune in gems hidden among ancient ruins. What she finds instead is a gateway into another world—and a universe of trouble. Now, trapped in a strange new reality with no way out, Skeen must find the key to reopening the portal, and that will entail making contact with the mysterious aliens who created the interdimensional passageway.

Kassa Gambit by MC Planck

Centuries after the ecological collapse of Earth, humanity has spread among the stars. Under the governance of the League, our endless need for resources has driven us to colonize hundreds of planets, all of them devoid of other sentient life. Humanity is apparently alone in the universe. Then comes the sudden, brutal decimation of Kassa, a small farming planet, by a mysterious attacker. The few survivors send out a desperate plea for aid, which is answered by two unlikely rescuers.

Up Against It by MJ Locke (YA)

Geoff and his friends live in Phocaea, a distant asteroid colony on the Solar System’s frontier. They’re your basic high-spirited young adults, enjoying such pastimes as hacking matter compilers to produce dancing skeletons that prance through the low-gee communal areas, using their rocket-bikes to salvage methane ice shrapnel that flies away when the colony brings in a big (and vital) rock of the stuff, and figuring out how to avoid the ubiquitous surveillance motes that are the million eyes of ‘Stroiders, a reality-TV show whose Earthside producers have paid handsomely for the privilege of spying on every detail of the Phocaeans’ lives. Life isn’t as good as it seems, though. A mysterious act of sabotage kills Geoff’s brother Carl and puts the entire colony at risk.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

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