I sometimes forget that this is largely a personal blog, despite it being disguised as a book review blog. I sometimes also forget that practically no one reads the damn thing. I once wrote a review so bad that Richard K Morgan decided to dog-pile me on twitter. Whoops. With those books, I seem to hold a minority opinion that they were not very good. Seemingly, it is a minority opinion that I hold with The Expanse series.
I do know why I am bothering to read things that, even after the point of knowing that I am not enjoying them, pretty much continue to not be enjoyable. For starters, book series can change over time (and this one has, as evidenced by the absolutely laughable “Vomit-Zombies” never making an appearance after the first book). But also because I learned a long time ago the value of keeping up with the Jones when it comes to popular culture. I grew up in the 90’s as one of maybe three people who resolutely never watched an episode of Friends, and even now almost 30 years after the show aired people still reference it to me with an expectation that I get it, as I stare wide-eyed into oblivion. Culture illiteracy is not all that much fun, and Sci-fi is a discourse community I actually strive to be in. So I commit myself to reading these things.
The long and short of this review is that I really disliked the writing of this book. It made it very difficult to go on. I would start every chapter with the best intention and end the very same chapter having spent some time thinking about my tax return. I am sure someone will take that as some kind of stab towards the authors, but really it isn’t. I have loved books that are as widely disliked as they are critically acclaimed. I’ve also knowingly and willingly eaten durian, and frequently ordered Gorgonzola heavy four cheese pizzas to the disdain of those around me. Repeat after me: de gustibus non disputandum est.
After I finished reading this I realized that so little of it had actually registered with me that I had to look up some cliff notes online. That led to a whole lot of my saying ‘huh’, and wishing that the book actually had stuck with me. I liked the plot, but somewhere in my head my inner Vladimir Nabokov was plugging his ears and screaming ‘tough shit’. I think there should be some alternate universe where I really liked this. But I don’t live there, or at least I can’t. Maybe I should just watch the damn TV show, and pray they finish it.
To be sure though, it wasn’t all just me. I reread my review of the previous book in the series and remembered that I was curious how they were going to tie up all the book’s many threads. I don’t feel like it was terribly successful in doing this. The aliens we were all expecting to turn up didn’t. The novel’s main human villain just kind of fucks off at the beginning, only to kind turn up again in the late stages of the novel. A new characters quest to find the missing villain by finding his daughter just never made any god damned sense to me. So yeah, there was plenty of meh to this book.
I think I am going to oblige myself to read something with some really lush prose next.