Book Review: Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey

Title: Caliban’s War (The Expanse #2)

Author: James. S.A. Corey

Blurb: We are not alone.

On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggles to prevent interplanetary war from reigniting. And on Venus, an alien protomolecule has overrun the planet, wreaking massive, mysterious changes and threatening to spread out into the solar system.

In the vast wilderness of space, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante have been keeping the peace for the Outer Planets Alliance. When they agree to help a scientist search war-torn Ganymede for a missing child, the future of humanity rests on whether a single ship can prevent an alien invasion that may have already begun . . .

My Thoughts

I honestly don’t know why I waited so long to pick this book up, because I read Leviathan Wakes quite a while ago and enjoyed it. And I’m kind of annoyed with myself for not continuing this series immediately—because this was a pretty great book. It introduces excellent new characters, raises the stakes of the plot (not an easy task after the previous book’s climax), and further expands the already well-developed world-building that made the first book both fantastic and believable.

The new POV characters introduced this time around—Bobbie, Avasarala, and Prax—each added a new dimension to the story that kept it “fresh” while further fleshing out the different societies and perspectives that exist in the solar system.

Through Bobbie, we get a better look at the proud, rule-oriented culture of the Martians, as well as the impact that the battles spurred by the plot are having on the soldiers forced to fight them. Through Avasarala, we get a better grasp of the intricacies of Earth politics and how the UN politicians manipulate events beyond the planet. And through Prax, we get a very emotional civilian element that puts a face to the kinds of humanitarian crises that are occurring throughout the solar system as a result of the actions of the major players in the story.

In terms of plot, I think this book took the storytelling one step up from Leviathan Wakes, whose finale was well done but was centered largely around a single stunning event. There are a significant number of expertly intertwined plots and subplots in this book, which all add up to a complex and fulfilling conclusion that answers many questions and raises many more, and develops all the POV characters in a satisfying manner while bringing to a close some of their character arcs in sensible ways.

Overall, I thought this installment was an excellent successor to the first book, and thanks to its last-page twist ending, I’m going to be picking up book three, Abaddon’s Gate, in short order.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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