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Mass Effect: Retribution

(Mass Effect Novels #3)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  5,779 ratings  ·  182 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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 ·  5,779 ratings  ·  182 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 book
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 nat
Pamela  (Here to Read Books and Chew Gum)
Mass Effect: Retribution was well-written, plotted, and paced, but suffered from side-quest-itis pretty badly. The problem with writing tie-in novels for an RPG in which your choices affect the game's outcome is that it's almost impossible to write a canon novel with the characters that we love without delegitimising some players' choices.

Retribution suffers from trying to tell a story that has already been tackled in part with other characters in the games. Most of the novel's events are mentio
Eric Allen
Jun 02, 2021 rated it it was ok
Welp, the events in this book are referenced in Mass Effect 3 in two off-hand comments, so it has slightly more justification for existing than the second book had. Anderson is back, thank god. the second book REALLY felt his lack hard.



It's still not a story that needed to be told. It's boring, and kind of pointless. I didn't need a whole book to know that Anderson shot Kai Leng in both of his legs. Anderson told me that he did in the game. And that was all I needed. I didn't need a
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, you' ...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.

Chris The Lizard from Planet X
May 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Mass Effect: Retribution by Drew Karpyshyn is a video game tie-in novel based on BioWare’s sci-fi RPG Mass Effect Franchise. Wrapping up his Mass Effect trilogy, Drew Karpyshyn delivers an emotional, action packed ending in Retribution. Ex-Cerberus agent Paul Grayson is laying low on the lawless world of Omega. Working odd jobs for the Pirate Queen Aria, he’s managed to stay clean and in control. But the past is about to catch up with him. The Illusive Man has a long memory, and no one ever gets ...more
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 someo
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!
May 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 O
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 inevitabl
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 Ascensi
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 Ce
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 pri
May 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
"As he sipped his drink and smoked his cigarette, the Illusive Man's gaze shifted from the glowing blue star to the cold black curtain behind it. One thought kept running through his head, over and over.
The Reapers are out there somewhere. And they're coming."

Of all three Mass Effect novels Drew Karpyshyn has written, Retribution may just be my favorite. It beautifully ties up and closes the door on the threads of the other two books in the series, while leaving the window for the games cracked
The Mass Effect books have always been the kind where I don't think you'll really enjoy them at all if you're not already familiar with the video game series. As someone who's a big fan of Mass Effect and have played all the games, I've always enjoyed them even if they're not the best books out there. That being said, Retribution became my least favorite of the bunch almost immediately.

The plotline to Retribution isn't bad. In fact, it's pretty interesting though, once more, something that's mo
Christian Hamilton
Jun 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
The last great "Mass Effect" book in the first series.

Karpyshn's "Retribution" continues the plot threads of the previous book, though this time focusing mainly on the relationship between Anderson and Sanders and Grayson, while at the same time introducing us to Kai Leng (from "Mass Effect 3") and more of the Illusive Man. Gillian takes a large step back in this novel, and in fact, we don't really hear from her at all, her existence really being privy to a few passing references.

This novel does
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elwin Kline
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Mass Effect continues to secure its spot in my favorite top 3 sci-fi universes.

It's hard to say much within this review and keep it spoiler free. Let's just say it is super fun, a light and easy read, there are all sorts of very interesting alien races, evil artificial intelligence is in the mix too, which is always fun.

Coming at these books as just something fun and relaxing and nothing too serious or earth shattering helps the reading experience. If you've played the Mass Effect videogames a
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 t ...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 fourt
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 hope
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
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Nisa's Book Club: Book Club #3 - Mass Effect: Retribution 1 5 Jan 07, 2017 09:26PM  

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

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