Algernon's Reviews > Caliban's War

Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey
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Aug 05, 13

bookshelves: 2012
Read from July 16 to 20, 2012

It's a pretty safe bet that those who liked the first Expanse book, will enjoy Caliban's War , too. I would add that new readers should start the journey with Leviathan Wakes , and not here, as this is not one of those loosely connected, self-contained, ongoing francizes like The Dresden Files or Vorkosigan Saga. The story picks up a few months after the cataclysmic events described in the debut novel, and will spoil said events for the less cautious reader. My review also may contain spoilers of this nature for anybody unfamiliar with what happened before.

Daniel Abraham and Ty Frank saw they were on to a good thing with their space opera and decided to change as little as possible, to the point where some of the plot devices are recycled and used in an almost identical way as in Leviathan Wakes, instilling a strong deja-vu sentiment: the main story arc is about chasing a missing girl from one asteroid station to another; James Holden once again decides to emulate the Wikileaks founder and to broadcast dangerous secrets to all and sundry; vomit zombies are still part of the landscape, and Earth, Mars and the OPA are still at each other throats. The epic starts with an explosive conflict between Earth and Mars marines on Ganymede, and keeps gaining steam until a spectacular finale (view spoiler) . I stayed more than one night up into the early hours, unable to stop reading, going for one more chapter, for one more switch in POV, sleep forgotten - so at least I felt that the book is well written and fast paced. This is for me the equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie, and like them it makes me think of popcorn and amusement park joyrides. I got this vibe also in Leviathan Wakes, but it was less glaring there and now I'm having difficulty taking the series seriously.

One of the reasons for my detachment may be the scarcity of scientific speculation, almost abandoned after the built up in the debut novel (view spoiler). Another reason may be found in my lukewarm reaction to the new characters introduced as major POV's. While Praxidike Meng was interesting enough with his exo-botanical credentials and his bumbling attempts at becoming an action man, I found Gunnery Sergeant Roberta "Bobbie" Draper too bland and stereotypical of the Space Marine template. Chrisjen Avasarala is a major political player, and my dislike for her is of a more personal nature, as I don't like people in power who use potty language agressively and then claim this is the only way to gain respect.

I may have some reservations about the depth of characterization and the rigorousness of the scientific detail in this series, but at another level I'm still the kid who enjoys space battles and alien monsters and rides to the outer planets. So I am really looking forward to the next installment.
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