The Atlantis World – TwoMorePages Book Review

The Atlantis World – TwoMorePages Book Review

Hoooh boy, we finished the series! I will say I’m a little sad it’s over, and I felt like A.G. Riddle could have made this two books, considering how much stuff we learned in the last say 20% of the book.

This book was decidedly sci-fi, taking a very different turn from the other two books, which you could conceivably describe as action (book 1) or action/mystery (book 2) with a little sci-fi thrown in. We learn about the enemy that General Ares is so very worried about; we learn about the backstory of the girl Atlantean scientist that saves us as a species way back when; we learn about Atlantean society as a whole!

There are some things that, in retrospect still don’t make 100% sense, but I suppose anything in the sci-fi genre never will make 100% sense.

Okay, enough non-spoiler talk. Here we go!

 

Dorian Sloane

So…about that theory that I had that Dorian Sloane would turn out to be a hero for humanity. I was…kind of right? I rather dislike the way his character went out. It seems so out of character for him to just space himself. In his mind, he was the good guy; he was trying to save humanity. Humanity is in shambles back on earth; surely he would have tried to find a way back to try and save what was left? Bah, oh well.

Jurassic Park

I feel like there was a large opportunity lost here in not exploring the dome on the ship more, the one that held the biosphere with the invisible carnivores. I was very surprised that it was over with in what seemed like just a few chapters. When it was first introduced, I thought for sure that would be the unique thing in this book, much like the journal was in The Atlantis Gene and the whodunnit was in the The Atlantis Plague.

But not so much! No big deal though, I did very much enjoy the adventures of our protagonists (and antagonists!) as they had to navigate this foreign world basically, with invisible creatures trying to murder them.

One of the more common criticisms about this series of books is that it didn’t describe the scenery well enough, that it was too plot driven. Not so with this section of the book! I could vividly see the action happening in my mind as Kate and David went through the jungle, as Dorian scanned left and right with his laser scope, trying to find the invisible animals that had butchered his men.

 

Crap, I let too much time pass before finishing this review

So um, here’s where the review is going to get a lot more unspecific. Alas, I let like 2.5 months go by before I picked it back up, and now I only remember the large impressions that the book made and am significantly less excited than I was before. You can probably tell from the tone now vs the tone above haha.

If you read about this book elsewhere, you will notice a common theme running through them. Whether or not people liked the book (and there were definitely opposite sides on that), they all felt like the story was rushed at the end. Alas, I do have to agree with that assessment. The denouement came so quickly at the end to wrap everything up. We definitely could have had a second book to deal with that, but oh well.

 

Backstory Flashbacks

That being said, I do like that we get to have the entire universe and backstory fleshed out. Like book 1, A.G. Riddle chose to show how we got to this point with the use of flashbacks, both from the perspective of Kate and Sloane’s Atlantean counterparts.

General Ares was obviously built as the antagonist throughout the entire story, and we get to learn why he’s such a hardass. He experienced the genocide of most of his race, rebuilt it, only to see if fall back into ruin because while he remained a hardass, he saw his society get soft. And then saw it fall again. So in his mind, the downfall of his race was tied to the softness than he never lets himself feel anymore.

And we get to learn so much more about Kate’s Atlantean counterpart, Isis. You kind of got the impression that Isis accidentally messed everything up in the past (with the best of intentions!) in the past few books. This time, you get to witness it firsthand along with Kate. She’s the one who accidentally damns her society with gene therapy. Whoops. The road to hell is paved with good intentions…right?

 

The End

So, alas I don’t remember a ton about the ending now that I have almost 3 months rust on me. I remember thinking that things were rushed, and that stuff didn’t 100% make sense, but oh well. For instance, the Atlantean faction that Isis helped are the ones that end up saving the day, but they arguably are the weakest force around compared to the Sentinels and the Serpentines. How does that work?

And it’s revealed that Ares’s plan all along was to mess up Earth so badly that the new bad guys will want to come and assimilate all the people on the planet, thinking that everyone on the planet will willingly join the ~~Borg Collective~~ the Serpetines. Um, what? This entire time, I thought we were training a race of super soldiers to go and fight some bad guys. That’s what Dorian Sloane sold me on. What? You could have messed up the planet in other ways than that. It…didn’t quite make sense to me.

But oh well. Not everything ends the way you want it to. And overall, I was entertained by the overarching story. I will still fight anyone who says the first book, The Atlantis Gene, is not a good book haha. And I rather liked the second book, The Atlantis Plague. Too bad the author has said we won’t revisit this world at all, but it was nice spending time in it nevertheless.

The Atlantis Plague – TwoMorePages Book Review

The Atlantis Plague – TwoMorePages Book Review

Allrighty, we’re back for round 2 of the Atlantis Trilogy, with A.G. Riddle. Oftentimes, you’ll see sequels fizzle out, but not in this case! We get to continue the adventures with our characters from book 1, this time seeing the effects of the plague that was unleashed in Book 1 and seeing the Immari and the major world nations duke it out in a world where well…99% of people are going to die because of the plague.

I once again enjoyed the fast pace of the action like in The Atlantis Gene, and this time we even got a mystery to solve! Trying to figure out who was the double agent in the midst of our protagonists was very enjoyable for me, and, in true Atlantis fashion, the reveal surprised me.

We got to see David Vale being a badass, which he only got to show flashes of in The Atlantis Gene, and we got to see Kate do things on her own without the help of Captain America nearby.

The ending felt a little rushed, but oh well. That happens when you write a story that goes at full speed 100% of the time.

It was nice that the book delved further into sci-fi though, focusing heavily on the science when talking about how the Plague worked and how the protagonists had to go about tyring to deal with it. The talk of 80% of our DNA not having any sort of recognizable purpose and the fact that we each have faint personal radiation signatures I thought was pretty cool. Yay for science!

Allright, that’s about all I can say without getting into spoilers, so off we go!

Whodunnit?

So while The Atlantis Gene had a cool story within a story, The Altlantis Plague has a mystery embedded within it. For ⅓ to ½ of the book, the protagonists and we are stuck knowing that someone in the group has betrayed us, but not knowing who. For my part, I was 90% sure it was Janus the entire time, and actually trusted Shaw. Doh.

My thinking was that if Shaw wanted Kate, he had her way back at the Immari facility in Spain; he didn’t have to go around killing Immari folks to help get her out. I suppose I didn’t take into account the fact that Sloane wanted some information from Kate first, and would need to allow her to get it first. So, I mostly ruld out Shaw.

But here was Janus, who somehow magically can swim way better than anyone else when they’re getting rescued from the drowning ship; who is a super smart geneticist who seems to actually be better at trying to find a cure for the plague than Kate herself. I was 100% sure he was the traitor.

So when the reveal came that well…the traitor was Shaw, but Janus isn’t necessarily a good guy either, I was very surprised. Chalk up another turn I didn’t see coming on A.G. Riddle’s wild ride. Haha.

David Vale and Cueta

Another cool thing in The Atlantis Plague is that we got to see David Vale in action, being a badass again. We kind of saw it in The Atlantis Gene, but we really get to see his cunning in this book. For instance, when he gets captured at Cueta, his ability to try and bluff his way out of his situation I thought was extremely entertaining. We geven ot see his thought process along the way.

His orchestration of the takeover of Cueta I thought was cool, and the way that it was revealed to the reader I thought was a nice touch. Instead of being inside David Vale’s head while he plans the assault, you get the view from the Commander’s point of view, and only see things as they unfold.

One thing I didn’t actually understand though was the tribesmen – were they the people that went backwards genetically, or people that went forwards, but didn’t organize the way the Immari did? The fact that they are able to reason with Vale and orchestrate an attack suggests the latter, but in the begining, they are described as the former.

The Immari

So we talked in the last review about how I wasn’t 100% convinced that the Immari were wrong. That belief didn’t really change here, as I personally think that if I was a plague survivor that was still high functioning, I would also be of the opinion that the plague was a good thing and that the strong would survive. I’d probably join the Immari, and as they seem like a stable force in the world, and don’t force me to live in Orchid concentration camps.

I mean, as the reader, I know that they’re not really on the up and up and that if I didn’t choose to join them voluntarily, I would end up dying on a plague barge, but I don’t think it would ever be in a position to know that really. I’d buy the line that the Immari are here to change the world hook line and sinker.

One very puzzling thing though is that the supposedly genetically superior survivors, people who should be smarter and stronger than people were before, are so very easy to kill. The guards around Kate are easily dispatched. David Vale and his old friend are able to easily trick or kill several Immari soldiers. They just seemed like anyone else to me. And yet they’re described as these amazing superhumans.

The Gene Therapy

Okay, I thought it was way cool how the plague wasn’t a virus or bacteria in a traditional illness sense – it was re-activating dormant DNA, and so normal medicinal procedures wouldn’t help. In fact, things like medical quarantine couldn’t even contain the plague since it wasn’t transmitted through normal illness means.

The tie in to the actual scientific fact that nobody knows what 80% of our DNA supposedly does I thought was extra poignant. Much like I enjoyed the linkages to the real world in The Atlantis Gene, I very much enjoyed this linkage back to the real world in The Atlantis Plague.

I’m going to gloss over how feasible it would be to change the DNA in a person (the proposed therapies that the protagonists used to address the plague), because well…if I didn’t, I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the story, and I wanted to haha.

Dorian Sloane

Another thing I enjoyed in this book was how Dorian Sloan changed from almost being a cartoon villain to being a nuaced villain that I could relate to.

His struggle as he realizes that a lot of the menacing parts of his personality are derived from that of General Ares is very interesting. He tries to save his pilot; he tries to have feelings for his psuedo-gf; he tries to save his brother. But in the end, he ends up abandoning his struggle to do each and every one of those things, to embrace the softer side of him, arguably to embrace himself (instead of becoming more like Ares).

I’ve mentioned before that I’m still not convinced that the Immari are cartoon bad guys in all this. They’re just trying to do what they think is best to save the species, genetically vault us forward in intellect and physicalness so that way we can stand toe to toe with this indescribably powerful enemy that took out the Atlanteans. I wonder if A.G. Riddle is setting up Dorian Sloane to be a hero in book 3. It certainly looks like it.

Conclusions

The Atlantis Plague delivered along the same lines as The Alantis Gene: fast paced action, unpredictable story turns, relatable protagonists, tie ins to the real world, and one core gimmick that the book revolved around: in this case the mystery of who was the traitor

Just like the first book, I found myself delving back into the story as often as I could, even on vacation when I should have conceivably been doing something else. A.G. Riddle’s writing style has me hooked for sure.

Sure, he may not be George R R Martin, but I don’t like that much elaboration in a story anyway. Sometimes I just want cool (unpredictable) things to happen, in ways that make sense in retrospect.

The Atlantis World, here we come!

The Atlantis Gene – TwoMorePages Book Review

The Atlantis Gene – TwoMorePages Book Review

Woooh, this book was an amazing adventure! It’s definitely my favorite fiction work not associated with The Expanse that I’ve read all year. And phew, it came just in time, since the last few fiction books that I’ve read were a little well…let’s just say under par.

The pacing of the book I think was my favorite part about it. Oftentimes, stories take awhile to build up before coming to a climax where everything happens. Not with this book! We’re thrown right into the action from the get go, and we learn about our characters as we go. This approach also lead to we, the readers, not knowing who the protagonists are initially, and I loved that. You don’t know who the main characters are vs the side characters; you don’t even know who necessarily is the good guy or bad guy; heck, you don’t know who lives or dies (and at least one person who I thought was a protagonist straight up DIES).

I’d go so far as to say this isn’t really a sci fi book, though it has sci fi elements. It is an action book, and we’re along for the ride.

But more than that, the other major things I loved about this book were its unpredictability, and the fact that it referenced real life historical events, explaining them pretty reasonably with sci-fi elements in the book. The Spanish Flu? The Dark Ages? The fact that almost every culture on earth has a story with a huge flood as part of it? Even 9/11? All weaved right into the story.

And the creme de la creme? The little story within a story that we get, as one of the protagonists reads a journal, and how the events within that journal come full circle back to the main storyline. It was perfectly executed, and I loved it.

Okay, let’s get spoiler-y. Do NOT read the rest until you’ve read this book

The story within a story

My favorite part of this book was Kate’s dad’s journal, how it helped to explain what was going on, and how the events in it ended up tying back to the main story. I was in the middle of a vacation in the national parks of the US when I got that section, and I found myself stopping on hikes to read “just one more chapter.”

It was a nice break from the nonstop action that David and Kate were experiencing up to that point. The journal was riveting, and helped to fill in the backstory of what exactly was going on, talking about the Immaru / Immari split and to help flesh out the motivations of the Immari, the main antagonists in the story.

The big reveal

Undoubtedly, the big reveal in this book is where you figure out that it’s Kate’s dad that wrote the above referenced journal, and that several of the characters in the journal are alive and kicking in the current timeline, though under different names.

Maybe I’m slow, but I definitely did NOT see that coming. As I tried to piece together that Name A from the journal = Name B from the present, it did get a little confusing, but I thought it was really well done. Everything ties in together really well, and the motivations behind why people are doing what become a lot clearer. Certain Immari higher ups are driven by the desire for power; others are driven by the Immari core mission, to help protect humanity, no matter the human cost; others are slightly conflicted and are just here because they are making the worst of a bad situation. It really fleshes things out well beyond “The Immari are bad just ‘cause”

The Immari

Speaking of the devil, I really liked the Immari as group of antagonists. I have to say, without knowing what kind of evil they’re trying to protect us against, at least a small part of me understands what they are trying to do, and thinks that…well…maybe they’re right. Sometimes you have to sacrifice people to save the everyone. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” and all that.

The book tries to paint them as evil, self serving eugenics folks that just want to kill a bunch of people in a misguided attempt to save the human race, but what if they’re right? What if the only way to fight back is to genetically progress the human race forward? Yes, millions will die, but millions will ALSO be saved! In fact, if the Immari are right, that makes David and Kate the antagonists in this story, dooming the human race, and it’s because of them that 7 million people (everyone) die instead of just 3-5 million people.

It’s an interesting concept, and I hope that the story explores it further in the next books. It would be quite the interesting turnaround if in fact the Immari turn out to be correct after all.

All the tie ins to world events

But perhaps what really drew me into the story was the references to real life historical events. So little is known about the Spanish flu, other than that “a bunch of people died and we don’t really know why”. Literally millions died. The Atlantis Gene proposes that it was an accident, that the Bell did it, and I find that fascinating. This fiction book actually motivated me to go and do some research about the Spanish Flu, something which I barely knew about at all before.

Ditto with the references to the Dark Ages. Entire centuries passed, and we went *backwards* as a species in terms of our development. That’s astonishing when you think about the difference between 2016 and 1996, let alone 1906, just 100 years earlier. But during the Dark Ages? Nope. Backwards. And there’s no real way to study it in real life because well…there’s so very little to study.

I especially found the tie ins to human development interesting. I knew that there were neanderthals and that we out-survived them, but I didn’t realize there were also a subspecies of primates called hobbits in real life, and that the more science delves into our origins, the more human subspecies that we find. It’s fun to learn real facts in my fiction books!

Unpredictable

One of the other things that I enjoyed most about this book was the story’s unpredictability. I predicted very little of what was to come, which honestly is very hard to do as an author. So Kudos, A.G. Riddle. I did not expect The Bell to be a time dilation device in addition to a murder device. I did not expect Kate’s dad to be the author of the journal. I did not expect to learn that both Dorian Sloan and Kate were actually born around WWI, and were stuck in the stasis/healing chambers until recently. I did not expect that David Vale would be betrayed by the person he trusted most in Clocktower.

The punches kept coming, and, once you knew the full story and the character’s intentions, made tons of sense. Even the little things were done well, like Dorian having had sex with Kate in the past and then leaving her as a sort of middle finger to her dad.

Conclusions

I read this book knowing in the back of my mind that this was a trilogy, but honestly, this book could be a stand alone book very easily. The loose ends are mostly tied up, the primary antagonist and one of the primary protagonists are well…dead, so you could easily end the story here on that bittersweet ending.

I know some reviews will say this book moved a little too quickly, didn’t flesh things out very well, and played out more like a movie than a book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed the unpredictability, the pacing, the motivations behind the antagonists, and the science-based explanations for major events in history. I already bought the other two books in the series, and am starting soon. This is going to be great!

Red Hope – TwoMorePages Book Review

Red Hope – TwoMorePages Book Review

“Red Hope. It’s a red liquid form of cyanide. The purpose of it was in case the crew had a life-threatening disaster and would not be able to return.”

When I read this line was when I first realized that this was not going to be a happy go lucky, survive against the elements of space and live happily ever after kind of novel, like Apollo 13 or something. There were hints before, like when more experienced astronauts decided to forgo the mission because there wasn’t enough preparation involved; or when the President unilaterally decided to make a totally unreasonable plan to get to Mars within a year without consulting the head of NASA first.

There was literally no reason to include a line like that unless well…everyone (or the majority of everyone) was going to die.

So I don’t know why I was so surprised when shit started hitting the fan and our heroes didn’t end up being well…all that hero-like.

This was a great story that I thoroughly enjoyed: aforementioned foreshadowing aside, there were plenty of events that I just didn’t see coming at all, but which made sense in the context of the story. More than that, we got flawed characters with real motivations that we could at least understand, if not empathize with.

The Boys

Keller, the “sugar daddy” of the group, playful millionaire who isn’t qualified at all to be on the trip, is entertaining in his own right. Between his stories of how he got to where he was, how he ended up totally going back on his word to the Russians, and his not-so-secret relationship with Molly, you got great insight into a character who had the best of intentions, but who definitely should not have been on the trip in the first place.

Adam, arguably the main protagonist in the story, is relatable while the story is on Earth. A devoted family man, he goes on the dangerous mission in large part to secure financial well being for his family, especially his wife who got life-changingly hurt last time he was in space. He wrote a book about his time in space, a spectacularly unsuccessful book, which ends up coloring his actions for the rest of the story. You, as the reader, learn that yeah, he went up into space to financially secure his family, but also for ego. In hindsight, it should have been totally obvious that he was going to totally betray Yeva in their agreement to simultaneously be the first people on Mars.

I’ll be honest and say that I was a little happy when I saw that Keller was going to betray him and leave him there to die on Mars. What a fitting punishment: first man on Mars (who wasn’t supposed to be the *sole* first person on Mars) ends up being the first man to die on Mars. Poetic, even.

But alas, Keller is not only a coward, but a dumb, out of shape coward who pauses at the doorway just long enough to let Adam murder him horribly and steal his air. Well, to be fair, Keller betrayed him first since they were supposed to share the air, but nevertheless…

The Girls

Yeva gets so totally fucked this entire story. First, she’s put on the mission only because Keller screwed over the Russian government and so they refuse to play nice with the US. It’s not really the best thing in the world to be forced onto people who don’t want you there. But okay, so she’s there, she’s competent, she trains, and…she wins the little lottery the crew have as to which 2 get to be first people on Mars. Sweet! Except…that shithead Adam preemptively jumps and beats her to the punch!

WTF?!?!? In her shoes I would definitely have assaulted Adam in front of billions of people with a kick or a punch or something, mission results and international relationships be damned. For the rest of human history, his name will be the one everyone learns and remembers. Hers will be a footnote. And he has the gall to say things like “Remember your training, let’s work as a team?” Pffffft.

Yeah, I would say her sarcastic and pissed off attitude afterwards to Adam is about as muted of a reaction as you could possibly expect.

I did like her chapter where she finally got some happiness on Mars, as she realized that she was the first person to actually touch Mars while she frolicks in the sand next to the Big Turtle. Having her find happiness in making the best of a bad situation was heartwarming.

The Pacing

Aside from the characters, I think the thing I liked best about Red Hope was the pacing of events in the story. Lots of novels I’ve read lately feel…meandering, like they could have spent a lot less time to get to the point and tell me what happened. Red Hope definitely doesn’t have that problem. Hell, the nuclear apocalypse happens on Earth in the span of a chapter with almost no leadup to it. I remember thinking “Wait. WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!”

I can’t wait for the next novel. Between that and the new The Expanse novel that come out in Q4 of this year, I’m going to be one happy camper.

The Butcher of Anderson Station (Expanse Novella #1) – TwoMorePages Book Review

The Butcher of Anderson Station (Expanse Novella #1) – TwoMorePages Book Review

“They used me. They made it about sending messages to everyone that you don’t fuck with Earth, because look at the shit we’ll do just because you spaced an administrator on a nowhere station. They made me the poster boy for disproportional response. They made me a butcher.”

This novella was…a work of art. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it that much, since I didn’t feel particularly close to Fred Johnson in The Expanse, but boy was I wrong.

The juxtaposition of Fred Johnson being interrogated by Anderson Dawes / the OPA and the flashbacks to the taking of Anderson Station were done brilliantly, helping to demonstrate the change in his psyche between the two periods in time.

Moreover, the writing style of the flashbacks is done *really well*. I mean, it helps that I kind of already saw it happen on the show itself, but I didn’t really grasp what I was seeing the first time I saw it on screen. I couldn’t put the story down once the assault started on Anderson Station. You really feel the anxiety of Johnson leading his men, the remorse he feels as each green dot representing his men turns yellow. But more than that, you feel his regret in the aftermath of the assault when things just don’t add up – too many fortifications look stupidly built, too many people died trying to buy one of them more time. Why? He doesn’t get it, and neither do we, until…the big reveal at the end shows us that the the station thought they had surrendered. Only problem was *nobody told the assault commander*.

A nice bonus too was the characterization of Anderson Dawes. In the story, he doesn’t get nearly as much storytime as he gets screentime in the show. You get to see his calculated, intelligent moves, his thought processes as he tries to figure out “Why is this idiot trying to get himself killed? And can I get him to help me instead based on that motivation?” You get more insight into the Belter culture as he talks about how in space, you can’t afford to be wasteful, and how different that is from Earth.

Having just finished Nemesis Games, it also puts into perspective why Fred is so shocked that factions of the OPA are going after him *now*, of all times. They had their chance before; it’s so dumb that they would be doing so now that he’s in charge of shit and has real power and authority to get things done.

I honestly didn’t expect much from this The Expanse novella, but boy was I glad to be wrong. This was a great read. I’ve already started my next one.

 

The Phoenix Descent – TwoMorePages Book Review

The Phoenix Descent – TwoMorePages Book Review

 

The Phoenix Descent was a story that changed from one genre to another to another partway through. I thought I was reading a space story at first, then a zombie story, then a dystopian government story. Guess that’s my fault for not really reading much about the story before I dove in haha.

It was time well spent reading though. The two protagonists, Sif, and Litsa, were relatable, and up until the very end, the action was very unpredictable. More than once I had to double back and be like “Wait. Did that just happen?!”

The Prologue was very well written. I felt like I was reading something like the beginning of The Last of Us, a video game that I thoroughly enjoyed. Interesting that both of them had zombie-like things come from fungal spores. It definitely made me like the book right off the bat.

Okay, let’s dive in and get all spoiler-y, shall we?

The Premise

Like I said before, I really liked the book right off the back because of the similarities to The Last of Us. The Riy at their core were not that different from the zombies in that game; they were both fungal based, sent out spores to infect new hosts, had different specialized versions of infected that went out to kill people. Sure, there weren’t any clickers or bloaters, but there were jumpers! And drones are basically almost the same as runners!

So I strapped in for a limited supplies, everyone is dying but I have to murder the Riy somehow kind of world. And we got that with Litsa’s story, as we follow her attempts to keep her tribe safe.

But to juxtapose with that, we also get Sif’s story, naval aviator turned astronaut. We start the story with her and her crew trying to figure out wtf just happened since they thought they’d wake up around Mars, but they didn’t. The playful banter she has with her crewmates helps set the tone for her character, tough and resourceful, with a sense of humor. I pictured her like Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica, honestly.

So the two go on their separate adventures until they finally meet up and Litsa almost kills Sif, and we get to combine the stories huzzah.

Twists and Turns

I honestly thought at the beginning of this book that the two would team up and then somehow find a way to kill the Riy. That seemed to be the obvious place the story was headed. But noooooope!

Burned a Riy hive to get it to leave your tribe alone? Did it successfully with basically no casualties? Sorry, no happiness for you. The Takers have arrived! …and now you’re kidnapped.

But more than that, the Takers are not immediately portrayed as the bad guys. When they first interact with Sif and Hunter, they’re portrayed as the good guys in fact. They’re not doing bad things with the indigenous people that they’re kidnapping; they’re just trying to move them out of the way of the ever expanding Riy. The locals just don’t understand because, well…they’re just not educated enough. A simple misunderstanding, really.

They roll out all the stops for Sif and Hunter, treating them as welcomed guests, and giving them all the comforts of home – military command, clean clothes, food, shelter. Seems like a good setup, right?

Well, not so much. Player 4 has entered the game! Who’s player 4? The Resistance. Fuller risks everything to tell Sif and Hunter what’s really going on behind the scenes and…and…GETS MURDERED FOR IT. I did *not* see that coming! I thought he was going to be protagonist #3.  But nope; unceremoniously shot in the head and used as a plot device.

One thing that did rather annoy me was how the author had the characters figure out what was going on in the story before the reader. There are several chapters that fly by while you, the reader, are stuck in never never land, not knowing what the characters obviously know. I imagine it was to build tension, but honestly? It just felt annoying to me.

I will say I kind of saw what turned the Takers from good folks to bad folks coming. The whole “I’ve seen these people before, but I’m not sure why” vibe was just a little bit too large of a hint. Oh well. You have to make the antagonists wholly unlikable somehow if you’re going to murder them all, right? And what better way for that to happen than for them to commit atrocities to keep themselves alive, disgusting the protagonists and you, the reader, in the process.

The Tears

One thing I really did like though was the way that the final few chapters were written. Once you figure out why the Takers are bad folk, the story progresses very quickly to its climax. The pacing is done very well, underscoring the severity of the events unfolding and just how quickly they’re occurring. Plus, Sif’s banter with Shattuck is comedy gold. It’s like watching a cat play with an evil mouse before she kills it.

But of course, this is a dramatic story and things go wrong. The second that we find out there’s a problem with the navigational computer on the Resolute, I knew what was about to unfold. Of course Sif was going to run a suicide mission.

The chapters describing her descent and Hunter/Lucas/Litsa’s reactions to it were written exceptionally well. I’m not ashamed to admit that I teared up some while reading it.

Honestly, I think the story would have fit better had she not miraculously survived by some deux ex machina at the end, but everyone likes a happy ending, right?

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed my time reading this book. Aside from the very end, I thought the story was very unpredictable, and honestly, even with the expected twists at the very end, I was still very entertained. The protagonists were relatable and fun to imagine; the pacing was very well done; and most of the book had unexpected events unfold that I did not see coming. Not everything is going to be at the level of The Expanse or Game of Thrones and that’s okay; doesn’t mean they’re not well written or not fun.

I’d recommend reading The Phoenix Descent, and I will probably get The Gemini Effect from Chuck Grossart as well. I like his style.

The Expanse – Mars and the MCRN get the shaft ALL STORY LONG

The Expanse – Mars and the MCRN get the shaft ALL STORY LONG

Let’s tell The Expanse story from the POV of Mars and the MCRN. They get totally shat on this entire story.

They’re chilling, doing their own thing, and then this random ass little ice hauler shuttle broadcasts to everyone, saying that Mars blew up their ship. From Mars’s perspective, they’re like “??? What? No we didn’t. What the F?”

So they go and save this stupid little shuttle who is broadcasting a distress signal and accusing them of murder. Fine. Whatever. They’ll get to the bottom of this.

They think the OPA did it, and what do you know, there’s a suspected OPA operative in Naomi Ngata on board. So they start investigating, interrogating. As far as actual interrogations go, they treat their prisoners excessively well. No torture (remember the gravity torture back on Earth with Avasarala???). Just piercing questions and paying attention.

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE. Stupid mystery ships attack and BLOW UP THEIR FLAGSHIP. All Martian hands lost. Hundreds, if not thousands of lives.

The Captain basically risks everything to try to buy time to launch one of their Corvettes in order to clear the air. The entire escort contingent of MCRN marines dies getting Holden, Naomi, Amos, and Alex to the Tachi. They’re supposed to go to Mars and tell them the story, clear the name of the Donnager and Mars.

Let’s just gloss over the fact that Holden basically trades MCRN lives for the lives of Naomi, Amos, and Alex since he refuses to be transported without them, endangering EVERYONE.

But what do these jerks do? They claim the Tachi as legitimate salvage, rename the ship the Rocinate and FLY OFF BY THEMSELVES. Thieves!

But wait, there’s more! Earth, full of a bunch of untrustworthy jerks, tricks the Martian ambassador into revealing the site of all of their stealth production facilities, compromising their military position. On top of that, Earth MURDERS HIM! Fuuuuuuuu.

And for what? Mars didn’t do anything wrong in all this! They were just chilling, minding their own business, arguably doing the right things and then…BAM, kicked in the nuts over and over.

MCRN for life.

(but wait, there’s more… BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD)

Caliban’s War

They have to fight Holden and Avasarala’s war, losing two ships in the process, even in victory. And then when they go to take out the facility housing the Protomolecule monsters, A BAJILLION MISSILES CONTAINING THOSE MONSTERS GET LAUNCHED FOR MARS, THREATENING THE ENTIRE PLANET’S POPULATION.

Nemesis Games

And then on top of that, they get TOTALLY OWNED by the discovery of the gates. Their entire purpose of being goes away since nobody wants to terraform Mars anymore when they can just go to other planets. Their society basically crumbles, and lots of their weapons/ships go unaccounted for.

And what seems like half their fleet goes AWOL burning for the rings. They have no discipline in their military ranks anymore since their fleet won’t listen to their prime minister. AND THEN THOSE IDIOTS GO AND GET THEMSELVES KILLED BY MYSTERY ALIENS IN ONE OF THE RINGS.

So here’s Mars. Society on collapse, with an impotent military, a governing body that seems to have no respect, and a population problem because nobody wants to stay. A ragtag bunch of terrorists calling themselves “The Free Navy” have now confined them planetside on a planet that can’t independently support life. Fuck their lives.

tl;dr Poor Mars. They’re just sitting there, minding their own business and then BAM, everything blows up in their face.

Nemesis Games (The Expanse Book 5) – TwoMorePages Book Review

Nemesis Games (The Expanse Book 5) – TwoMorePages Book Review

Nemesis Games is amazing, like legit amazing. I saw other very favorable reviews before I read it, along the lines of “It’s great, much better than books 3 and 4, though those books do set up book 5 very well.”, and was worried that I had hyped it up too much in my head, but fortunately that wasn’t the case this time. ZOMG, Nemesis Games is far and away not only my favorite book in The Expanse, not only my favorite book read so far in 2016, but might be one of my favorite fiction books of all time.

You know when you get one of those books that you just can’t put down, that you blow off other things in real life to read? That’s Nemesis Games. The action is very well paced through the entire book and keeps you enthralled the entire time. Even the setup to all the events going to shit is really interesting since, unlike the other The Expanse books, the other non-Holden POV characters this time are THE CREW OF THE ROCINATE!

Oh, it was such a joy to read things from the perspective of Amos, Naomi, and Alex. I felt like they had been relegated to side characters somewhat in the previous books; Amos being the muscle, Naomi being Holden’s smart gf, and Alex being the hotshot pilot that was a little past his prime. I know some of them got novellas to flesh out their characters, but really, we hadn’t gotten to know them a ton before this book.

But not now! Now I get to hear Amos’s murder-y thoughts, along with his thoughts on what is moral or isn’t. And you get to experience Naomi and Alex’s trauma as they reconnect with their past lives. It’s *wonderful*.

Okay, let’s get this review party started, shall we? It’s time to go from spoiler-free to spoiler-y.

Naomi

Oh, Knuckles. Now we know your pain and how you ended up on the Canterbury. You had a homicidal terrorist ex boyfriend who you had a kid with? And you were unwittingly part of the OPA? Now we know why you Mars was interrogating you so harshly waaaaay back when in Leviathan Wakes. They suspected!

And we visit that dark, dark place that you were in. You were suicidal at one point? Actually went through with trying to kill yourself, only thwarted by a security measure? Wow.

And let’s not forget YOU HAVE A KID! A…kid partially responsible for the worst catastrophe to happen to Earth since humans have been on it…but a kid nevertheless. He’s smart, like you, and has been raised thinking you abandoned him and that the inners are cause of all of his problems. *sigh*.

But more than that, we get to see you in action this time, out from under the shadow of Holden and the Rocinate. We see you have to deal with being a prisoner guarded by people you once called friends, including Cyn. Oh, poor Cyn. You had to murder your friend, someone who stepped into that airlock with the best of intentions of *saving your life* because he thought you were going to off yourself again.

But you had to. It was the only way to even have a chance at saving everyone, at saving Holden and the Rocinate. And you did it! You had to survive in vacuum with no eva suit and had to launch yourself out of an airlock multiple times to do it, but you did it!

Mars

Bobbie’s back! Okay, technically, she only exists in Alex’s section, but Bobbie is one of my favorite characters, second only to Amos. And she’s back, this time with more than one stupid chapter to hook me (curse you Cibola Burn!).

I was pretty excited when I saw that Alex was going to meet with Bobbie while he was on Mars and beyond ecstatic when I saw the story leaning towards her becoming a crew member on the Rocinate. The scenes with her and Alex were endearing, both in the beginning where she meets him up and asks for help in solving this mystery she’d been looking into, and when they are trying to escort the Mars Prime Minister to safety on the Razorback.

“‘No,’ Alex said, ‘You’re not staying. I don’t give a shit. I’m not leaving you behind.'”

That was such a moving scene to me. I legit thought *exactly* what Alex thought, that she was going to stay behind to buy them some time. It wouldn’t be the first time an MCRN marine died to save a Rocinate crew member…

That scene cemented the growing relationship that she and Alex had been having, and was the first time that I felt like she truly became part of the crew.

The Adventures of Amos and Clarissa

Color me surprised that Clarissa also made an appearance in this book. I guess there was some payoff to having to read all of her chapters back in Cibola Burn.

Surprisingly, I empathized with her really well, considering how much I hated her character back in Cibola Burn. I guess that’s because Amos was such a big fan and well, I love Amos. I trust his character judgments haha. Plus, she didn’t try to murder my favorite protagonists this time around, and seemed genuinely contrite about what she had done. In fact, she was pretty critical in keeping Amos alive. And, it’s easy to feel sorry for someone if she’s a cute girl who is going through some shit, right?

Amos, unsurprisingly, went around being a badass through most of the book. We get to see his interactions with Erich and the crew that he grew up with, hear about his acts of mercy which end up paying dividends now that Erich is in charge, see him getting into violent scuffles in part just because and in part for his own sense of social justice.

This book does a great job of making his character darker, more of a violent killer with a questionable moral compass instead of an aloof mercenary/mechanic who just happens to be good at his craft. Up until now, I wouldn’t blame you if you’d imagined him as Jayne from Firefly: definitely dangerous, but mostly comedic. Nemesis Games highlights his violent side as he makes threats, even against old friends, in order to get what he wants.

But it also accents his loyal side. Erich may have threatened to have him killed once or twice, but when one of the Pinkwater guards tries to manhandle him, Amos beats the shit out of him, making a point to the other guard that he was safe since he hadn’t threatened to skullfuck his friend Erich. Plus, he stays by Clarissa’s side and sticks his neck out at the end with Holden to open the door to Clarissa becoming a Rocinate crew member. Surprisingly, I’m on board with this idea, and hope it comes to fruition in the next book, despite Holden’s obvious misgivings.

And, we get to see some character development too. He saves the staff on the island and brings them with, even though he doesn’t have to; in fact, even though they would slow him down. I like the nuanced way that his motivations exist too as Amos points out it’s not because he wants to do it, but because “it’s something Holden would do.” That counts as growth? haha

Holy shit that story

But beyond getting to know our crew better, and possibly introducing new members to it, Nemesis Games also brings us an *amazing* story, complete with huge changes in the established universe and new antagonists who, this time, don’t end up dead/out of the story at the end of the book.

First off, catastrophic asteroid impacts on Earth. Billions dead. Billions more will follow. Almost kills Amos, but that is actually not the main point of this. This pulls back the entire UN fleet to protect Earth from this happening again. It kills the UN Secretary General and puts our favorite grandmother in charge of the entire government, including the UN Navy. It also turns Earth into a land with a unified purpose, whereas before they were fractured groups of people. I expect to see something like a post 9/11 vibe from Earth in the next book.

Second off, just like Avasarala predicted, Mars is falling apart. Its population is leaving, and it can’t keep track of its military assets. Ships and weapons are going missing. The Prime Minister is almost killed, and a huge section of the MCRN Navy is just up and burning towards the ring for reasons nobody in the story seems to know. Also, it seems like the main bad guy behind Marco either is in cahoots with someone high up in the MCRN command or is that person himself. And that person has enough influence to have murdered at least one MCRN soldier and has tried to murder Bobbie and Alex to cover up his dealings.

Third off, Fred Johnson is now his own political entity. The OPA, the bunch of racist jerks that they are, tries to have him killed because he’s from Earth. Nevermind that he joined them because the UN was murdering innocents on their side; nevermind that he has probably helped the Belt more than almost anyone in the solar system; because fuck him he’s from Earth. Bunch of racist assholes. And they take Medina Station! They now hold Fred Johnson’s trump card, the entire reason he has “a seat at the table” with the other governments of Sol.

The hits just don’t stop coming in Nemesis Games. The entire power structure of the solar system is destabilized by the end of the book. Heck, there’s an entire MCRN fleet headed towards the ring at the end that the Prime Minster can’t control. AND THEY DIE. So not only is there a power struggle here at “home” in our solar system, but something crazy is happening beyond the rings as well. Now I’m sad that I can’t immediately start up the next book and see what happens. Game of Thrones fans, who have to wait for some undetermined about of time for your next book? I don’t know how you do it.

Final Thoughts

I love this book. I love it *so much*. If it were a girl, I would do naughty things to it, get married, buy a house, and raise little book/human hybrid babies with it.

It is a great culmination of all the books before it, and definitely changes the entire landscape of the story. Major characters from the other books are brought back, whether just in memory (Sam! *sob*) or as actual characters in the story (Bobbie and Clarissa!).

The entire universe of the story is changed, with Earth being un-inhabitable-ish, Mars’s society collapsing, and the OPA fracturing into racist vs non-racist factions. And it looks like we’ve gotten our first encounter with an alien species. But which one?! The protomolecule creators? Or the species that destroyed them?!

But at least the crew of the Rocinate is back together, complete with what looks like two new crew members. Avasarala is in charge of Earth, and once she gets shit calmed down, will probably be taking care of business here in Sol against Marco’s “Free Navy”. Can’t wait to see what happens in Book 6.

Sigh, waiting is a game I am bad at.

Abaddon’s Gate (The Expanse Book 3) – TwoMorePages Book Review

Abaddon’s Gate (The Expanse Book 3) – TwoMorePages Book Review

“‘What?’ Holden asked. His brain refused to believe this could be true. He’d heard the words clearly, but those words could not be, so he must have heard them wrong. ‘What?'”

I think I hate this book, not because the writing was bad, but because almost everyone I root for dies. This was a book of pure frustration. :/

The quote above, referencing when Holden learns about Sam’s fate? That is *exactly* how I felt. The thought “I definitely just read that wrong” crossed my head.

That might be as emotional as I’ve felt in The Expanse in a long time. I could not believe that had just happened. And the chapters immediately following it, where Corey describes the reactions of Amos, Holden, Naomi, and Bull? They perfectly mirrored mine. Amos first, with his immediate thirst for vengeance;  Holden, with his similar, but more tempered reaction; Naomi, immediately turning into a sobbing wreck, focusing on sadness instead of anger; Bull, forcing everyone to keep moving along in the story instead of wallowing.

A lot of people die in Abaddon’s gate. A lot of good ones. For the record, if Miller were still alive and around, none of this bullshit would have happened. His pragmatism would have saved everyone. Ashford would have been either airlocked or at the very least, put under guard with guards with known loyalties, and the counter-mutiny would never have happened. But noooope; we have to go all soft hearted and keep Ashford alive even after he’s proven to be utterly incompetent, so that way he can 100% go off the deep end, try to get everyone killed, and kill my favorite engineer!

Okay, I guess I should stop being mad about Sam’s death. Let’s move on. I guess. *sob*

Abaddon’s Gate marks the first shift in The Expanse away from dealing with scary protomolecule monsters, changing the protomolecule’s role from the origin of vomit zombies that can kill everyone to basically a technology that opens up this gateway to weird space. It’s a marked shift in tone that changes the focus of the series from the scariness of the protomolecule to people’s reactions to new and unknown situations.

Miller’s Back, Bitches!

Okay, I admit it. I basically started this book within minutes of finishing Caliban’s War because of the final chapter. Miller was back! And I wanted to see how his reincarnated character would interact with our favorite spaceship crew.

The beginning starts off a little anti-climactic, basically telling us he’s been speaking gibberish the entire time between the two books. But I really liked the reveal of *why* exactly he’s back, and in many ways, not back. Rather than using a contrived sci-fi explanation to reincarnate him, proto-Miller basically explains that no, Miller is in fact dead. There’s a protomolecule-like machine / entity that is using his personality as a base, but Miller is most certainly dead. Because of that, you get to see flashes of his personality, but he has his own motivations for existing, motivations that exist outside of what may or may not be important to the Rocinate’s crew.

That being said, at several points, their motivations do in fact intersect, and Miller ends up playing a key role in Holden figuring out what is up with the ring and why it exists, creating the catalyst for the next book. Moreover, it’s Miller that spells out the implications of what might happen if Ashford tries to blow up the ring with a laser and why *everyone* is in trouble from his insanity.

But more than anything, proto-Miller is entertaining in his banter with Holden. His character might technically be dead, but he still throws quips as well as real Miller did. And Holden’s exasperation in dealing with him is rather amusing from my point of view as the reader.

Mars and Their Badass Marines

What was I talking about before? Oh right. This story kills everyone I care about. If you’ve been reading my other Expanse reviews, you already know that I love the MCRN and basically think they’re the good guys in this whole mess. Well, we get to know some of their marines again in this book; not quite as well as Bobbie Draper, but well enough to be upset when bad things happen to them.

Sergeant Verbinski, commanding officer of the marines that are ordered to surrender to the Behemoth (against his own advice); sarcastic, skilled, fun. I loved his quips with Bull, both in the exchange where he reveals that he smuggled some grenades on board and in the exchange where he tells Bull that none of this would be a problem had he and his squad been allowed to keep their power armor. Moreover, he’s shown to be smart in making the correct strategic decisions to take and defend engineering, and to take out one of the baddies in the stolen martian power armor. His death, much like Sam’s was sudden and quick. One moment he’s there, the other he’s not. Honestly, I’m still not sure how he died exactly. Was it from injuries sustained defending engineering? Or did his EVA suit break or something?

Verbinski is backed up by his squadsmates, Juarez, sniper extraordinaire, who actually takes the shot that takes out the aforementioned baddie in the stolen martian power armor. Even when he’s out of bullets, he’s still sighting for his fellow marine, Cass, still taking shots. With soldiers like these, how does the MCRN ever lose any battles? But of course, since Abaddon’s Gate likes to kill or at least severely maim all the good guys, Juarez gets his guts shot out when they try and take the bridge. Of course…

But okay, I’ve spent a lot of time on what seem like tertiary characters up until now. They’ve been my favorites. And they’re all dead. Let’s move on to some of the main POV characters.

Bull

To me, Bull is Fred Johnson Lite; Strong, self-sacrificing, and selfless, he spends the entire book getting the shaft. He should be Captain of the Behemoth, but since he’s officially from Earth and Belters are a bunch of racist assholes, he is relegated to 2nd officer. However, Fred puts Bull in the unenviable position where he has to be in charge without the power and authority to actually do so, which inevitably leads to the power struggle that defines the conflict on the Behemoth. Honestly, Fred Johnson should have been smart enough to see that coming.

Poor Bull. He gets crippled; all he wants to do is get everyone safely out of the slow zone. But he has to deal with all sorts of bullshit just to do so. In fact, he has to engineer a freaking mutiny to get his Captain to stop making idiotic decisions. And then, when he’s finally right and victorious, the new Captain / old XO decides to basically put him under minimum security guard instead of spacing him or putting him  in a more secure prison. So he has to take his crippled ass, take back engineering, and then basically fight back against almost invincible antagonists in martian power armor.

Oh, and of course, since this is Abaddon’s Gate and he’s a likeable character, he dies. At least he takes out a few of the bad guys with him.

Can you sense my frustration with this story?!??!

Clarissa Mao/ Melba

Okay, so one very different thing that Abaddon’s Gate brought us that the other Expanse books didn’t was having one of the POV characters be one of the antagonists. We’re brought into the thoughts of Clarissa Mao, who has concocted honestly a pretty damn good scheme to character assassinate + actually assassinate James Holden.

Unfortunately, since we’re already firmly on the side of the Rocinate‘s crew, it’s hard to empathize with the poor rich girl trying to get vengeance on her (evil) father’s behalf and murder our favorite protagonists. It’s even harder to do so when you see her murder innocents like Ren along the way because they were too nice / too smart.

I assume Corey’s purpose in showing us Clarissa’s POV is to tell a story of redemption, of a person misguided by their upbringing, who then realizes the wrongs that she’s doing and who ultimately redeems herself.

Except…this entire situation is her fault in the first place! I, the reader, don’t forgive her. I wanted her spaced in the first place, and just because she ends up playing a pivotal role in keeping Holden and Co. alive later doesn’t absolve her of her original guilt!

I’m pretty sure I missed the entire overarching theme that I was supposed to see about forgiveness and redemption, but oh well.

Ashford

I find it rather amusing that when Clarissa is in her cell next to Ashford, she doesn’t listen to his rantings, and then later thinks to herself “Wait, what was that guy saying? Why is he acting all crazy?” Because I feel like that is pretty similar to what I felt whenever Ashford went from incompetent, insecure idiot to homicidal maniac bent on trapping/killing everyone in the slow zone.

It was such a large character shift I had to go back and re-read to see if I missed anything. Nearest I can figure, he just went crazy after his crew mutinied on him, and his insecurity drove him to want to save his ego by trapping everyone in the slow zone to “save” everyone at home. When I think about it though, that doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand how anyone that stupid could ever have ascended the ranks, even in the OPA, where command structure is a little more loose.

He becomes fully unhinged once he’s loose. Remember before, when he was upset that Bull spaced the drug dealer? That painted a picture of a man who cared about his crew, who was upset that one of his own was killed without due process. Next thing I know, he’s ordering roaming death squads, deciding that everyone in the slow zone needs to die, and shooting Sam in the face! (*sob*). Makes no sense at all that he’d get that unhinged because of some people questioning his command.

But oh well, stories need unlikeable antagonists, right? So we got one.

Final Thoughts

Okay, so you’ve heard me rant…a lot in this review. Now it’s time for me to say that I still thought my time reading it was time well spent. The entire last 20% of the book is a very well written action sequence where our crew of good guys tries to take engineering, fails to hold it, and hunkers down in the broadcast booth to try and send out the message of what Ashford is trying to do and how it’s going to get everyone killed. This will be an enjoyable sequence to watch on The Expanse if the show lasts that long. I found the book very hard to put down once the action started flowing, and I imagine watching it will be just as great.

With hindsight, Sam’s death evoked the emotional reaction I think that Casey was going for. It was sudden, unexpected, and affected me and all our cast of good guys deeply. I think the point was to illustrate just how serious the situation was, and that Ashford had gone off the deep end. It still sucks, I can see why it was important for the story.

Bull got a hero’s death, which at the end of the day, is in the vein of what his character was all about: self sacrifice for the good of others. He got the shit end of the stick, took it, and made the most of it, helping our cadre of good guys as best he could in the process.

Our martian marines? They took out several people with them, and helped to display the awesome military might of the MCRN Marine Corps, showing that Bobbie Draper is not the only person from Mars worth a damn in a fight.

The overarching themes of forgiveness and redemption were kind of lost on me (Sorry Anna!), but I always tend to struggle with those concepts anyway.

The big takeaway from this book though is that it changes the entire tone of the series. We’re no longer confined to our solar system. There are Stargates rings that we can go through now, leading to brand new planets in other solar systems! The promolecule creators are revealed to be mortal, and have mysteriously disappeared! Moreover, the protomolecule itself changes from this big scary thing that might end humanity to well…the heart of some new mysterious technology? THAT was a large, series altering shift.

Abaddon’s Gate sets the scene nicely to lead into Cibola Burn, where the focus again continues to shift away from the protomolecule. I’ll see you there (and hopefully more of our friends don’t die along the way *sob*)!

The Lost World (Jurassic Park) – TwoMorePages Book Review

The Lost World (Jurassic Park) – TwoMorePages Book Review

I think I just got book rick-rolled haha. I spent the last few days reading The Lost World to get to the scene above and it…never happened.

Now I’m googling “The Lost World Book vs Movie Differences” and finding out that the entire sequence of events that lead up to a T Rex loose in San Diego was made up just for the movie and was never in the book haha. Whoops…

Okay, we were doing a book review, I think. Let’s try to set aside my crushing disappointment that I didn’t get to re-live the scene above in my print, with a T Rex running through San Diego.

So I picked up The Lost World because /r/books promised a scene with raptors on the boat that was bringing the dinosaurs to San Diego. Wait, hold on…that’s not better. Okay, so I picked up The Lost World because /r/books said it was good? Yeah, let’s go with that.

I took a break from marathoning The Expanse in print and decided to go the total other direction in sci-fi. Instead of the future with space and the problems inherent in living in a vacuum, I decided to go back and hang out with dinosaurs, woohoo.

Okay let’s start the review

The Lost World was an exhilarating action story with cool science in it, focusing on animal behavior, plus re-introducing me to some of my favorite dinosaurs growing up, pachycephalosaurus, compsognathus, apatosaurus, and of course, our favorite carnivores, raptors. The pacing of the story was perfect to me as a reader. You got to experience the joys of Levitt and Malcolm as they explore Isla Sorna before everything goes to shit, geeking out with them as they get to observe dinosaurs in the wild, seeing if prevailing theories on dinosaur behavior were right or wrong. They’re so happy and you are too as a result. Even Levitt, who’s basically an ass the entire story, can’t help but be happy while he’s doing his nature observations.

I feel like they built the characters well too. Everyone has a motivation for acting the way they do or doing the things they do. Sarah Harding has special insight into how the dinosaurs might act because of her experience with working with large predators in Africa. Kelly is unsure about most things she does because everyone at school had basically given her extreme negative reinforcement growing up. Levitt is a spoiled asshole naturalist because well, rich kids don’t grow up with boundaries and so they get to do whatever they want to do and treat people mostly however they want to treat them. Dodgson is super reckless and gets his entire team killed because it’s his one last shot at dinosaur discover, plus because he has a questionable moral compass in the first place.

But of course, this is Jurassic Park, and everything eventually goes pear shaped, this time kicked off not because of the idiocy of Nedry, but because of the conscience of Eddie, who brings back an injured T Rex to the camp because he didn’t have the heart to shoot it. Well, I mean, if you really want to make this the antagonist’s fault, this is Dodgson’s fault because his team broke the T Rex’s leg in the first place, but nevertheless…

It’s too bad that the road to hell was paved with such good intentions. Because of the rescue, the T Rex mom and dad come and knock the hell out of the trailers, almost killing Malcolm and Sarah in the process. This scene was exceptionally well written and I can see why they tried to stay as true to it as possible when they made the movie. You can basically taste the fear of Malcolm, reliving his worst nightmares again, and you fully understand how Sarah is as strong as she is by living her thoughts along with her as she tries to keep Malcolm alive.

Raptors and Horrible Deaths

The raptor scenes in this are especially horrific, adding a new depth to death by raptor that wasn’t present in the film adaptation. Eddie’s death in the novel was way more horrific than the one he got on the big screen, as he is essentially tricked by the raptors into falling to his own death before getting pounced on. More than that, they exhibit an almost insane tenaciousness in trying to kill our protagonists, chasing them from location to location, and setting up traps along the way. I’m not convinced that the calories they spent in trying to kill the people were less than the calories they would have gotten by being successful, but hey, it’s an action story, and things don’t have to be 100% based in reality, right?

Speaking of horrible deaths, Dodgson’s death was a great present for us readers in the form of justice porn. I legitimately had my mouth agape as I read the scene where Sarah pushes him out from under the car to get eaten by the T. Rex. It represented the first truly grey action that a protagonist took, instead of the obviously good protagonist actions and the obviously bad antagonist actions. I mean, in retrospect, it makes perfect sense; the T Rex can smell people. It knows you’re nearby; it probably is deducing that you’re under the car. What it doesn’t know is that there are two of you, so push the other person out and you should be safe, right? It’s genius. But you don’t expect the good guys to do it, right?

But anyway, his death was especially delicious, since this entire problem is kind of his fault. I had a justice boner as I read the final chapter where the question is finally answered as to why the T Rex didn’t eat him to begin with. Ohhhhh, it’s because he is target practice for the T Rex babies. Awwww…

Wait what?

Switching gears really quickly, one thing that was a slight disappointment was the answer to the question “How are there so many predators on this island?” I had expected some fancy Ingen plot since there had been so much buildup for the question. I loved Sarah and Malcolm’s conversation about it earlier where they go through the math and deduce that it make no sense for there to be a predator-prey population ratio as skewed as it was, since I was kind of thinking something similar myself. For the answer to be “oh, prions” was kind of disappointing, since it wasn’t anything as grand and epic as I thought it was built up to be, but oh well. I suppose it kept with the theme of complex systems having simple solutions / causes.

Final thoughts

I’m still a little sad that I got tricked by /r/books into reading this book for scenes that weren’t even in it (I WANTED RAPTORS ON A BOAT!), but all in all, I’m glad I read The Lost World. It was an entertaining read, driven by action, and kept the turns coming. I can honestly say that I could not anticipate most plot events before they happened, and probably wouldn’t have been able to anticipate *any* of them had I not seen the movie first.

The story is well written, and I definitely found myself putting off other things to keep reading. I’d recommend it to anyone else looking for a fun book to read that was ever interested in Jurassic Park at all, or you know, DINOSAURS!