Review: Caliban's War

Series: The Expanse: #2

It’s not healthy having God sleeping right there where we can all watch him dream.

After the events of Leviathan Wakes, the protomolecule is just hanging on doing strange things on Venus… or is it?

It grabbed an UN Marine in its huge hands and tore him in half like paper. Titanium-and-ceramic armor ripped as easily as the flesh inside, spilling broken bits of technology and wet human viscera indiscriminately onto the ice. The remaining five soldiers ran even harder, but the monster chasing them barely slowed as it killed.

Turns out it’s not just on Venus anymore.

Caliban’s War picks up where Leviathan Wakes left off, with tensions high between Earth/Mars/the Belters and an alien presence. There’s another lost girl who has to be found (hopefully this isn’t a trend throughout the entire series) and more things going horribly badly wrong.

Worldbuildingwise, the outer reachers of the solar system in general and the moon of Ganymede being made into a breadbasket are interesting. It continues to look like something we could very well see in a century or two.

On top of that, the protomolecule is doing all sorts of interesting things to Venus on one hand and has been weaponized on the other. Both are fascinating developments and make me want to keep reading just to see what will happen next. Although the former isn’t actually that core to the plot, there are strong hints that it will be in the next book in line.

Characterwise, we have more Holden and his crew, which is fine. I still don’t care overly much for Holden himself; it is interesting seeing him grow– especially his relationship with Naomi. And I like the crew. Amos in particularly is amusing to read.

Beyond that, we have a handful of new supporting characters but two new main characters. First, Chrisjen Avasarala.

“The same thing as always. Try to keep civilization from blowing up while the children are in it.”

She’s a government official from Earth who’s something of a power behind the throne–and a little old lady with quite a mouth on her. It’s interesting seeing more of the political structure of the solar system, even if most of it involves Avasarala yelling at people.

Next, Martian Marine Bobbie Draper.

“Good, because I don’t use sex as a weapon,” Bobbie said. “I use weapons as weapons.”

She’s a straight forward soldier who’s seen some pretty terrible things (in the prologue) and gotten thrown head first into politics. I like seeing her opinion on things and she does a lot to flesh out parts of the world we hadn’t seen before–for a solar system at war, she’s the first point of view active soldier.

Finally, Prax Meng. He’s a botanist on Ganymede whose daughter has been kidnapped in the midst of everything going wrong. He’s a bit single tracked and annoying to read. Given that his daughter–literally his entire family– has been kidnapped, it’s understandable, but that doesn’t make him any easier to read.

Overall, a solid sequel. We’re definitely in the thick of a series now with big cliff hangers at the end of each book, but that’s workable.