Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey
The Expanse series #5
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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
First Published: June 2nd, 2015
Read from: Mar. 1 – 10, 2016
The Best Novel In the Series!
For me that headline is saying a lot. I have really liked this series as a whole. But I have never given any of the novels (and only one of the novellas) my, “I loved it,” rating of 5 out of 5 stars…. Until now.
When the book starts the Rocinante is in dry dock getting repairs from the action in the previous book. And Earth, Mars and the Belters are all reeling, trying to come to grips with what over a thousand new solar systems to explore really means. There is a passing reference to an overheard advertisement at this point that is a cool tip-of-the-hat to the classic sci-fi movie Bladerunner:
Start a new life in the off-world colonies! We can help!
With the exception of the usual prologue and epilogue, this time around and for the first time in the series, the chapter POV’s alternate between the entire crew of the Roci. The first result of this is that the backstory and depth to the series’ main characters grows exponentially over the stories of the past.
“It turns out,” Alex said, exaggerating his Mariner Valley drawl just a little for the effect, “that sometimes I’m an asshole.”
“You expect drinking alone to improve that?”
“Nope. Just observing the traditions of alienated masculine pain.”
“Fair enough,” the barkeep said. “Want some food with it?”
“I’d look at a menu.”
In the previous books the POV of the crew of the Roci followed for the most the stereotypical lead of it’s boy-scout-like Captain Holden. While his roles in this story are present, the action revolves far less around Holden, and instead he has become the emotional and moral axis of what has become more family than crew.
Maybe if she pretended to be weak, it was too possible that it would become true. Maybe she was pretending to be strong.
That family is split up for most of the book, spread out throughout the solar system for various reasons. While the POV follows the crew for most of the story we see a huge wealth of previous side and POV characters, whose characters are also further fleshed out in entertaining ways. With the crew spread out so, it really provides for a much bigger picture of the events that take place. No spoilers here, but those events… Well, let’s just say this story pulls out all the stops!
“For another thing, we’re under martial law, so I can do very nearly whatever the fuck I want. Including march through your precious little ship there towing you along behind in a ball gag and lacy underwear. So your warrant bullshit? You can roll that up and fuck it. Now tell me why I’m here.”
“You know just ’cause you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should. I don’t look great in frills.”
The series has always done a good job of creating scenarios where everything that has come before is changed drastically. Nemesis Games has taken that and amped it up even further. The events that occur are massive, game changing, historic turning points. And of course the crew of the Roci is right in the thick of it. Every bit was so well written in the perfect mixture of scientific detail and action, with a wealth of both emotionally-charged and humorous character moments, that it was more than a little difficult to put the book down. It remains to be seen how those events will pan out, and the epilogue of the novel adds one more huge bit of mystery that holds tons of potential for the rest of the series.
There is no room for outsiders when there is no outside.
I can’t wait for the next book Babylon’s Ashes due out August 2016!