Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book review: Caliban's War by James S. A. Corey

Goodreads: “We are not alone.

The alien protomolecule is clear evidence of an intelligence beyond human reckoning. No one knows what exactly is being built on Venus, but whatever it is, it is vast, powerful, and terrifying.

When a creature of unknown origin and seemingly impossible physiology attacks soldiers on Ganymede, the fragile balance of power in the Solar System shatters. Now, the race is on to discover if the protomolecule has escaped Venus, or if someone is building an army of super-soldiers.

Jim Holden is the center of it all. In spite of everything, he’s still the best man for the job to find out what happened on Ganymede. Either way, the protomolecule is loose and Holden must find a way to stop it before war engulfs the entire system.”

This sequel to Leviathan Wakes picks up some time after that book leaves off, following the same central characters and adding a few new ones. I had really enjoyed the first book, and I have to say, I think I like this one even better. Any criticisms I have of this book are essentially the same as those that I had of the first: namely, that it could have benefited from a bit of editing for length and that the dialogue was sometimes a bit pedestrian. Otherwise, I think that the story here moves even more quickly than it did in Leviathan Wakes, even considering the addition of  three more character POVs. Part of the improvement in pacing, I think, comes from the fact that the interspersed character stories, though starting out in different places, were more apparently related right off the bat and converged more quickly.

Our new friends are Prax, a biologist, Avasarala, a UN bigwig, and Bobbie, a Martian foot soldier. Avasarala and Bobbie, particularly, provide insight into the upper levels of the political drama and intrigue of the “inner planets” (Earth and Mars) that was only hinted at in the former novel. These perspectives added complexity to the overall galactic drama by indicating that there are more opposing factions than just inner vs. outer planets; rather, as one might expect, there are groups within the governments on Earth and Mars with their own secretive agendas.

I don’t know that I have too much else to say about this one, because despite it being great, it is a sequel, so I probably have to sell you on Leviathan Wakes first. And then if you like it, definitely pick this one up!

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