Saturday, August 5, 2017

Caliban's War (The Expanse, #2) by James S.A. Corey * * * * *

After reading Caliban’s War, I realised what I missed from Leviathan Wakes. The excitement of not knowing what was going to be next! I’ve seen the TV show, so I knew what was going to happen. However, since the show stops at about half of the book, the rest was a mystery. I couldn’t put it down. Literally, I would walk home with my Kindle in my hand, and just letting my feet take me.

The story went more into politics with the few new characters.

One was Avasarala. Pretty high up in the UN food-chain, those who watch the show know her already. She only gets introduced in the second book, though they wrote her some parts in the first season. I’m really happy they did that, because she’s a great character. I love that she’s like a posh Indian lady, who curses like a sailor. It’s also very interesting to see the point of view of someone who is so politically savvy. Avasarala for President! She’d hate me for that.

The other was Bobby. She’s a Martian, which can sound a bit funny, but she is from Mars. In her story there is a very interesting difference between the TV show and the book. In the TV show she makes a big deal of wanting to see the sea. Which does make sense, since coming from Mars, she had never seen such a thing. It also gives her an opportunity to get to know some of the differences between what she was taught about Earth, and what the actual facts are. In the book there is a similar scene. She doesn’t want to see the sea though, she just needs to go for a walk. She also meets some people, and realises that the people of Earth don’t have it as easy as she thought. The difference is, in the show, Earth is depicted as a much darker place. Yes, in the book they do mention that it’s not that easy to get into higher education, but it’s not as bad as the impression you get from the episode. 

The third new voice is Prax. He’s a scientist, and that’s beneficial for the story line. He also moves everything forward, as his troubles are one of the main storyline. Without giving away too much, I liked how his emotional state was depicted. People who watch the show already know what happened to him, though some of the details are different in the book. I don’t think I’ll be spoiling much, if I say no spacing scene. I really didn’t miss that one. His story was one of the main reasons I actually started the book. 

The politics side on the whole was complex. Negotiations and juggling of different interests, while trying to keep the greater good in sight is hard. The reason why I probably like such stories is because they are so complex and difficult to resolve. 

Overall, great read. Exciting, full of twists and turns. Also clever with the science. I liked the characters, enjoyed reading from their different viewpoints. Okay, now, enough of reviewing, I have the next book to read. I finished this in three weeks, which is extra fast compared to my busy schedule. Though I did have a two-hour delayed plane, and a 3.5 hour plane ride to read a lot on.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles #1) by Rick Riordan * * *

I listened to this story as an audiobook. The funny thing about that is that it's actually the best format for it. The story is actually set as a transcript of tapes that were dropped off for the writer. On the tape, two kids talk about their crazy-sounding adventures with Egyptian gods. So when you are actually listening to two kids talking about what happened, it comes across just the way it should.

The story itself is similar to other books by Riordan. Kids get into an adventure that involves stopping a god, and also travelling through the US. The difference is that on the one hand they are not demigods, and the mythology is Egyptian. Now I'm a great lower of Ancient Egypt, so this was a plus for me.

Overall, this is a great adventure, but I find that I wasn't taken by it as I was with the other books. The characters aren't that complex, and the focus seems to be more on the story and the mythology, than them. That is also why I didn't write about the kids in detail.

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse, #1) by James S.A. Corey * * * * *

 Any book about the future is always also about the present. This book isn't Star Trek. Humans are still petty, after their own interest. So while the setting is space, people act the same way they would on Earth. I guess the old saying of the more things change ... works. I had this thought, but so did the author, that no matter what, we are just primates swinging poo at each other, or poking things with sticks.

The story is about a period of humanity when we have left Earth, but took the problems with us, while staying in the Solar system. We have colonised Mars, some moons, even rocks in the asteroid belt. I loved how living, growing up in space had physically changed people. I also found the way they spoke interesting. A mixture of the different languages of the people who went there. However, the same way as when Europeans colonised the rest of the world, the colonies are treated just as badly. And they want to break away just as badly. Thrown into this tense environment is something unexpected. Without spoiling things for those who are not watching the show, it's big.


The story itself is told from the point of view of two men. One is Holden. He's a regular guy from Earth. Good childhood, nice parents, and that makes him an idealist. He feels naive sometimes, but he tries his best all the time. The conflict inside is that he expects better from people than they are, and then constantly gets disappointed. There is one point where he doesn't realise that words can be bigger weapons than guns. I'm not sure if he'll ever change. Maybe I don't want him to.

The other point of view is Miller. He's a belter. Grew up on a station built in a rock. He's also a cop. Kind of a sci-fi Dick Tracy. Even has the hat. He's much more a realist, and I found that I liked him more. He is jaded, and gritty, but he does what must be done. He also has a keen insight to things. They do clash with Holden. The funny thing is, I think Miller sometimes wishes he could see the world the way Holden does, but he's seen too much for that to be possible. 

Compared to the TV show, this encompasses the first season and some of the second. The story is pretty much the same, with some minor changes here and there. 

Overall, I enjoyed the story very much. It has personal stories as well as a grand scale of system wide events and politics. Now, let me finish this review, I have the next book to read.