I finished this novel last weekend and I cannot stop thinking about it. Since then, I got a new book and found it to be unsatisfying, generally and, more importantly, comparatively. It wasn’t bringing any excitement, adventure, intrigue, or general writing quality to the table, and I had just finished James S. A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes, the first novel in the “Expanse Series,” which was jam-packed with all of these traits. So, what did I do? I quit wasting my short life on a crappy book and went out in a serious deluge in order to purchase the next volume. Duh.
The story takes place during the distant future when all planets and other habitable spaces within the Milky Way have been colonized. Perspective ping-pongs between the two main characters, Holden and Miller. Holden works on a freighter ship that transports ice from the rings of Saturn to colonies that do not have their own water source, a.k.a, everyone but Earth. Miller is a detective on Ceres, one of many stations throughout the asteroid belt, or “The Belt.” The lives of Holden and his crew are immeasurably changed when answering a distress signal from an unidentified ship proves to have been a deadly mistake, and Miller is assigned to a missing person case that slowly but surely links him to Holden. As their missions intertwine, they must both fight to prevent interplanetary war and an altogether unfamiliar but potentially catastrophic threat to human life.
So, even though I just kept that paragraph spoiler-free, it contains about 50% more info than the blurb on the book jacket, so I went into this with very low expectations. I had never read a “space opera” so I figured there’s no time like the present. Considering my unpreparedness, every moment of this novel was a huge surprise and that made each twist so much more fun! No spoilers, obviously, so I can only give a general awesomeness review, but every detail was just amazing. The characters were flawed, relatable, compelling, and would totally be my friends if they were real. The pace was consistent but gripping, so that I blazed right through a 500+ page novel and desperately didn’t want it to end. All of the space stuff was new, exciting, and imaginative, but clearly well-researched and thoughtful. My only complaint would be that I think I, as the reader, was given a bit too much credit for how familiar I would already be with all things spacy. Maps weren’t included, so I was relying on my basic understanding of the galaxy and its components, as well as the jargon and details of life in space. Again, I was a beginner to the space opera genre (aside from reading The Martian and watching the original Star Trek series), so my knowledge level was Beginner, at best. Yes, that’s my problem for not paying attention in science class, so I’d like to retract my complaint. It was perfect. Go read it.
Understandably, I’m reading the second volume, Caliban’s War now. I’ll venture away from this genre just as soon as I’ve had enough, thank you.