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Mass Effect: Retribution

(Mass Effect #3)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  5,389 ratings  ·  167 reviews
Humanity has reached the stars, joining the vast galactic community of alien species. But beyond the fringes of explored space lurk the Reapers, a race of sentient starships bent on “harvesting” the galaxy’s organic species for their own dark purpose.

The Illusive Man, leader of the pro-human black ops group Cerberus, is one of the few who know the truth about the Reapers.
Mass Market Paperback, 356 pages
Published July 27th 2010 by Del Rey
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  5,389 ratings  ·  167 reviews

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William Johnson
If you'd like to see my reviews of the first two Mass Effect books click on the links: Revelation and Ascension.

The first Mass Effect book, Revelation, was a way to get Mass Effect suited to the book world. It involved characters from the first game and acted as a prequel. The novelty of it was that you read about places you, technically, had been to (walked through, ran through, shot at people through, etc). By involving the characters we knew it was a test to see if Mass Effect could adapt to
Sep 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Timeline note: Retribution is set almost immediately after the main storyline of ME2 concludes, but before The Arrival DLC. Which, I suppose, makes it canonical that The Arrival is post-game, even if you can play it through in the middle of the storyline. But it always worked better, from a story perspective, as a post-game adventure than a mid-game one.

Retribution has a strong hook: The Illusive Man has infected Grayson with Reaper nanotech as revenge for the events of Ascension, the prior
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
Well, purely in the comparative context of the Mass Effect novels, Retribution is all right and actually noticeably better written than Revelation. (I haven't read Ascension yet.) That honestly isn't saying much, though.

If you're a fan of the Mass Effect game series as I am, it may be worth a read-through as a companion to the game. As a novel, though, I can't really say much in praise of Retribution, I'm afraid. Many of the same problems plague Retribution as did Revelation. The dialogue is
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Granted I'm a little bias when it comes to Mass Effect so my review is more fan reactive. This book carries on from Ascension and the Illusive Man has a lot of wheels in motion. The book is something for the fans and it delivers on this front, Karpyshyn has a lot of the early novelist errors but this book starts with a lot of action and barely lets go. The Reapers are true unknown antagonists here and Cerebus are out to save mankind in their usual extreme methods. If you have played game 3, ...more
Marie Flanigan
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I really enjoyed Drew Karpyshyn's Mass Effect series of books that tied into the games. This third book in the series wraps things up and leads into Mass Effect 2. This gives readers more information on The Illusive Man and how Cerberus works. It also provides more information on Kahlee Sanders
and David Anderson and there is even a brief mention of Shepherd. All good stuff for Mass Effect fans. Now that Andromeda is out, it was kind of nice to listen to some of the old school Mass Effect stuff.
Dec 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
Surprisingly, this one had the barest glimpse of potential at being an interesting story. Squandered, but there was the gem of an idea here. However, the writing was awful. Once more, nearly every line of dialog is accompanied by a phrase telling us the internal mental state of the character in question. And the paragraphs of prose in between dialog blocks are merely transcriptions of what the characters are thinking, what their base motivations are, punctuated by clumsily written actions.

Luke Waldron
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Humanity has reached the stars, joining the vast galactic community of alien species. But beyond the fringes of explored space lurk the Reapers, a race of sentient starships bent on “harvesting” the galaxy’s organic species for their own dark purpose.

The Illusive Man, leader of the pro-human black ops group Cerberus, is one of the few who know the truth about the Reapers. To ensure humanity’s survival, he launches a desperate plan to uncover the enemy’s strengths—and weaknesses—by studying
Colin Flanigan
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Always liked this author. The Mass Effect universe makes for great video games and fiction!
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
The lie ran so deep that even those who’d helped bury the truth had convinced themselves the Reapers were nothing but a myth. They continued on with their mundane existence, too weak and too stupid to acknowledge the horrific destiny awaiting them. But the Illusive Man had devoted his life to facing unpleasant truths. - Drew Karpyshyn, Mass Effect Retribution

Mass Effect Retribution picks up two or so years after the end of Ascension. Grayson, a former Cerberus operative, is living incognito on
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi

Having read all three Mass Effect novels written by Drew Karpyshyn, I have to say they are very much three of a kind. Same style of writing, same ideas about the plot in all three. Each book seeks to flesh out the Mass Effect universe without directly touching on the main plot of the games. This is really a double edged sword. On the one hand, getting too deeply into the main plot wouldn’t make fans happy as there is such a variety of paths and choices to take the player character that
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Nothing about this book I didn't like. Karpyshyn is one of my favourite writers for Bioware, and I was sorely sad to see him leave the team, and this was definitely my favourite book of his.

Many people forget that the galaxy had more than what Commander Shepard was dealing with, and that important events that shaped the plot for Mass Effect 3 conspired without the intervention of everyone's favourite human Spectre/N7 Commander/neighbourhood playboy/girl.

As much as I loved Revelation and
William Ristau
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, favorites, sci-fi
This is the third novel in the series, and it once again goes in a slightly different narrative direction. The focus seems to be more on action than the previous two novels, and it achieves an exciting pace while also giving readers further insights into the Mass Effect universe.

Kahlee Sanders and Paul Grayson are at the heart of the story, and even David Anderson is back in the thick of things this time. The plot picks up a couple of years after the end of the second novel, and pivots around
Mogsy (MMOGC)
The third book in the Mass Effect series, and the first time I actually felt a twinge of disappointment. I felt the story was sloppier than the others, filled with plot points that jarred me out of my reading, distracting me from really getting into the book. It almost felt like the author was rushed.

Also for the first time, I started to get very irritated with Kahlee Sanders. Characters in the book even made it a point to remind her she's not the best judge of character, but seriously, how many
Lukas Lovas
Jun 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Another book in the series, that makes Mass Effect universe more real in my mind. Not a great book, but a good book none the less. It's hard to write in a universe, where all the main events have already happened and you are left on the fringes of the story, trying to make it interesting. So...all things considered, not bad at all :)

Behnam Riahi
Dec 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
The following review has been copied from

Mass Effect: Retribution, written by Drew Karpyshyn and published by Del Rey Press, is a third-person, science-fiction novel set in the Mass Effect universe, told primarily from the points-of-view of Paul Grayson and Kahlee Sanders. With great technological advancements, humanity has set foot into space and made many new allies by joining a council of other races. They commune primarily at the Citadel, a space station of epic
Dec 14, 2017 rated it liked it
tl;dr: I am a hardcore ME fangirl, and this is a great little puzzle piece in the canon, if imperfect

I'm a dedicated Mass Effect fan. I threw the Big Fit after #3 (goddammit Bioware, the end), I own not one but two N7 jackets (one's a trackie, shut up); my reusable Starbucks cup has "Shepard" sharpied on it and it never ceases to amuse me. I'm part of the fandom (if you are too, message me because I've got some good shit bookmarked). I own an omniblade (got in on sale though; DO NOT pay full
Jonathan Ford
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the 3rd book in the Mass Effect series by Drew Karpyshyn. This book is based on the game by BioWare. I don't play video games so I don't know how it compares to the game but it is a good read in the Space Opera genre. In this one the Illusive Man has captured Grayson and is doing experiments on him in an effort to find the secrets of the Reapers before they can destroy mankind. Shortly before he is captured Grayson manages to get a message off to Kahlee Sanders with all the information ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
The book was ok. Had the elements I wanted, but lacked the interesting story as its prequel. I really fell for Gillian and the fact that she's not part of this book probably contributed to me not being able to give it a higher rating.

It was an interesting story overall, and I was glad to read about the characters in it, as well as getting a deeper understanding for my favourite universe. Would recommend it to someone interested in the Mass Effect universe, but wouldn't reread it.

I have high
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
A more compelling product than the previous two instalments, this one benefits from following the exploits of already-established characters who have interesting backstories and believable motivations. It also goes to show how video games and novels have very different ways of telling stories. These novels feel more static and less enticing than the excellent game series, with run-on-rails storylines that don’t involve anywhere near as much consumer agency. Still, this instalment is the best of ...more
Sheity Williams
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Aw man :( It was a sad ending for me. I kept clinging to the hope that something could be done about it, but yeah... lost cause.

The book was tons of fun, even if it made me suffer a bit xD. I liked it better than the last one, but it may be due to the fact I already knew most characters, so there was no need for time to get used to them. The Reaper angle gave the plot an interesting flavor, at least for me.

I consider this one to be the best of the three books. I've seen reviews about the
Sayomara Vesper
Jul 01, 2013 rated it liked it

Expanded media for a video game is a hard thing to get right. Normally, when reviewing a book I look at it on two levels: is it a good book for the universe it is in, and is it a good book in general that someone who has never been exposed to said universe might enjoy? I would say almost all of the Warcraft novels fall into the former camp so when I read Drew Karpyshy's Mass Effect: Revelation I was impressed it wasn't just a good Mass Effect book, but it was good book in general. So
First Name Name
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not as good as the second book and definitely not as good as the first book. Mainly, I did not like the disappearance of David Anderson from the third book. Kahlee Sanders dominates the thrid book which is a departture from the the first two books. Part of what I enjoyed about the first two books was the interaction between David Anderson and Kahlee Sanders.
Alyssa Garcia
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I always hated the Illusive Man, but this book somehow made me hate him more (and love him more, since he’s an amazing antagonist).
There is so much they explain about the indoctrination process and how exactly, the Illusive Man went too far even before Mass Effect 3. Greyson was a character I never thought much of, but in this novel, I grew very sympathetic of him and his struggle.
JD Penley
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved the Cereberus story that exists outside of the games. This one gave a human face to them where the games only paint the Illusive Man as maniacal overlord. Give this a read if you're into Mass Effect.
Sarah Goodwin
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I really think the mass effect series of books (and possibly games) is just not as well written as the dragon age ones. But so far they are still pretty good. Maybe it's just me and my love for fantasy over sci-fi.
Nicholas Taylor
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
The best of this series of four, Retribution ties up what probably should have been left at a trilogy. There are important story bits here for the game trilogy, as well.
Trish Bond
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, gaming
I love this game, and the book was so easy to read. I enjoyed finding out more about some key characters and fleshing out the story line between games.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very well written book about ME Universe. Karpyshyn is one of the greatest when it comes to sci-fi world & games.
This book proves that not only Shepard can be the hero.
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Drew Karpyshyn is a Canadian author and game designer. After working at a credit union for some time, he eventually became a game developer. He joined BioWare towards the end of the Baldur's Gate series, and wrote the tie-in novel for Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. He stayed with BioWare, where he worked on Neverwinter Nights, and became the Senior Writer on the critically acclaimed Star Wars: ...more

Other books in the series

Mass Effect (4 books)
  • Mass Effect: Revelation (Mass Effect, #1)
  • Mass Effect: Ascension (Mass Effect, #2)
  • Mass Effect: Deception (Mass Effect, #4)