September 2019 books

I’ve been continuing to work my way through The Expanse series this month, and as you can see from the reviews below, two of them were a bit of a slog, but when you’re that deep into a series, you grit your teeth and keep going. That persistence has paid off though, as the latest book in the series, was absolutely excellent.

And of course also this month I had to take a break in the sci-fi to read The Testaments, which I really enjoyed, review for that below too.

Babylon's Ashes (The Expanse, #6)Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This one, book 6 in The Expanse series, is not as good as the other books so far. There are some very good bits in it, for example, I loved how one of the key battles was shown through the eyes of people watching it on a view feed, not at that moment directly involved in the battle but knowing (as they were on a space station right next to the battle) that the outcome would directly affect them, I thought that was a clever way of showing it, but, I don’t know, there are a lot of battles in this one and the bits in between just didn’t seem to piece the story together as well as The Expanse books normally do.

There was also an issue that I had a bit of a believability difficulty with the previous book, that was explored more fully in this book, and it was increasingly not that believable. I’m trying not to give spoilers here but basically, in book 5, a bad man who thinks he’s the hero, does an extremely bad thing, which, as he thinks of himself as the hero, he thinks is an extremely brilliant thing, and I get it, every villain is the hero of his own story etc. and this guy is a complete narcissist. In book 5, as the narrators were the crew of the Rocinante, the bad guy was the big bad villain and there was less exploration of why people were following the bad guy. It did feel odd, as in ‘why are people following this guy who is obviously a complete lunatic, why can’t they see that his plan is ultimately going to be a complete disaster, even if it works?’, book 5 didn’t go into that much detail about it and I was just happy to spend some time with my favourite spaceship crew. Book 6 is more narcissist bad guy but this time a lot of the narrators are people on his side and there was just this whole believability thing of how on earth do these people think what he’s doing is a good idea, why on earth haven’t they just sat down and thought things through? Okay part of the plot is people realising that the guy is an idiot but the fact that it took that long and after the guy had done something really really drastic?

The whole book though was an allegory for people getting all tribalistic and doing horrible things to people they think of as ‘other’, without thinking things through. Maybe that’s why this book annoyed me, I’m pretty sure that when it was written the authors weren’t thinking of Brexit, as it wouldn’t have happened when they were writing it (the book was published in 2016), but the whole thing was a very massive allegory for Brexit, there was even mention about supplies of medication. So spending a whole book with characters, who if they were here today in the UK, would probably think Tommy Robinson was talking sense, was not that pleasant.

Anyway, I will read the next one, a few clues were dropped in about where the story was going and it looks intriguing, I hoping for slightly less space battles, more alien stuff and less people who would give Boris Johnson a run for his money in the narcissist stakes.

Persepolis Rising (The Expanse, #7)Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was better than the previous book, some bits were very good, I thought the final battle sequence was very well done, viewing the different aspects from multiple viewpoints but as with some of the more recent previous books, I didn’t get on with some of the narrators. I think my issue with the series as a whole, I’m finding it harder to get why the bad guy is being the bad guy. In this one we’ve got the bad guys going down the path of some extremely rigid thinking and I can’t get why a whole planet of people wouldn’t have empathy. It was noticeable again though, that the series is making some very obvious references to Earth’s current political problems.

Anyway, trying not to give away too many spoilers, this one is set thirty years after the previous book. The crew of the Rocinante are making plans but an unusual looking ship coming out of one of the gates, puts a spanner in the works.

The TestamentsThe Testaments by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this, it answers a lot of questions about what happened to certain characters from the original book AND the TV series (the continuity with the TV series pleasantly surprised me), and what happened to Gilead as a whole. It’s also yet another reminder that ‘history does not repeat itself but it does rhyme’, the awful things people do because they feel they have to, and the power of fighting back.

There are three narrators; Aunt Lydia and two teenage girls, one from Canada and one from Gilead, Atwood gets the voice of teenage girls down perfectly, and how that teenage voice would differ depending on where they were raised.

Not that I’ve read many Atwood books (something I need to rectify) but this book is faster paced than some of her other stuff, you also have to remember that two of her narrators are modern day teenagers (even if one was brought up in a theocracy) and are therefore not going to go off on flowery long tangents. I loved this book but it may not be what some other Atwood fans are expecting.

Tiamat's Wrath (The Expanse, #8)Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After a dodgy few books, this one was really good. It’s almost to the end of the series now, there’s just one book left, which hasn’t been published yet, so argh I’ll have to wait to find out what finally happens.

(Mild spoilers if you haven’t read the earlier books)

In this one, the underground are fighting against the evil Laconia empire, the crew of the Rocinante still split up. Meanwhile, the bad guys are still doing really stupid things and pissing off an alien entity that had previously destroyed an entire civilisation far more advanced than humanity.

View all my reviews

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