Thursday, February 16, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Babylon's Ashes (The Expanse, #6) by James S.A. Corey

I still think The Expanse series is awesome but for the first time in my reading of the series I was not overwhelmed with enthusiasm when I finished the last page of the latest (sixth) book, Babylon's Ashes. (I have bought and read almost every book in The Expanse series on day-of-release and devoured them soon afterwards.) After the stakes for our home planet and the entire human race grew as large as they possibly could in Book 5 (Nemesis Games) there was bound to be a let down in this book, and there was (to me).

There is still a LOT of action in Babylon's Ashes (many space ship battles!) but after our characters survived ridiculous odds in Book 5 I never really believed for a minute that they would be killed in Book 6 regardless of how bleak the situation looked for our heroes. (And it was VERY bleak, MANY times!) So the suspenseful final action scene  in Babylon's Ashes wasn't really as exciting of effective as intended to me because I didn't really think that our heroes would die. I'm not sure why I felt this way, because the author (James S.A. Corey) did kill off some major characters in Babylon's Ashes.

A key feature of this book was the increased presence of political and philosophical discussions, primarily about the nature of evil and the limits of loyalty. I generally enjoyed and appreciated these aspects of the book.

Happily, some of my favorite characters in The Expanse books make pretty substantial appearances in this installment of the story: Avasarala, Bobbie, Naomi, Holden, and Amos. Even Clarissa Mao ("Peaches") is starting to grow on me. I'd love to get some more background on Said, Avasarala's assistant. Also, Michio Pa is an awesome addition to the  cast of first-person characters. 

The teenage angst of Fillip Inaro made my eyes itch and I felt like I should have cared more about Dr. Prax Meng's sub-plot but I didn't really.  I don't really understand why Meng was one of the few characters from Book 2 (Caliban's War) to re-appear  in a later book. Filip's dad (and Naomi's ex-husband) Marco Inaro is a suitably evil villain. It is sort of comically (and cosmically) poignant that the most evil person in the known galaxy just happens to be James Holden's girlfriend's ex-husband. I'm sure many readers can relate! 

All in all I'm still very much looking forward to Book 7 of the series (apparently titled Persepolis Rising) and am also very excited about seeing how Season 2 of SyFy's television adaptation of The Expanse turns out. To reiterate my overall impression of Babylon's Ashes: for the first time in my reading of the series I was not completely enthralled with this entry. Perhaps my expectations were too high but Corey had met them (and exceeded them) with all the previous books and I hope (and believe that) he will again.

Title: Babylon's Ashes (The Expanse, #6).
James S.A. Corey
Paperback: 538 pages.
Date Published: December 6, 2016.
Date Read: January 14, 2017.

GOODREADS RATING: **** (4.0/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).

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