I keep worrying about how much more trouble the beginning of this thing is giving me than the beginning of Life did, and having to remind myself that -- well, (a) I think I had to rewrite the first scene of Life at least once; it was just so long ago I don't remember. (b) Even if I didn't have to blank-screen Life itself at any point, the first scene was originally an isolated vignette, and even the characters who weren't in that vignette had been around in some form for a while. Of course I'm having trouble hearing these people's voices: I've never met any of them before. Also, almost everyone in this scene is a nonverbal tentacle monster.
There's a vibrancy I'm missing, and it took me a while to figure out what it is: Wakefield is not as fun a perspective character as Rook was, because Wakefield is not cranky. Rook was a cranky, cranky man, and his crankiness manifested itself as narration that crackled with jokes and sarcastic observations; Wakefield, on the other hand, has numbed himself to almost everything but his job, so what I get is mostly 'neutral speculation'. I suspect that the problem is not that the resulting narration is actually boring, but that I'm not comfortable when I'm not cracking jokes. Between that and the fact that the early stages of the plot are driven mostly by the actions of Nishimura and Taste of Copper, I spent some time recently in nail-biting anxiety about Wakefield having no opinions and no agency. I've been thinking about passive protagonists a lot lately, between devoting entirely too much of my brainpower to analysis of Twilight and then reading this; I get paranoid. Then I remembered that basically the first thing Wakefield does is save someone who just nearly shot him from death by falling while he's in the process of bleeding to death because he has strong opinions about whether it is appropriate to leave people to die. And then he goes to her husband's funeral because that's what you do, you honor the motherfucking dead. Okay, point taken. You have a personality.
Also, I have word of a scene much later in which Nishimura is going to accuse Wakefield of taking sexual advantage of a pair of innocent tentacle monsters. So there's that to look forward to. Actually, some of the shit that Wakefield is going to do later is so weird that I wonder if it will become difficult to keep him sympathetic. He never actually has sex with a tentacle monster, though, as far as I know. He still seems quite asexual.