Thursday, December 28, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Persepolis Rising (The Expanse, #7) by James S.A. Corey

Persepolis Rising is the seventh book in The Expanse series written by James S.A. Corey. The series has been adapted into a high-quality television series that airs on SyFy, but unlike other well-known speculative fiction adaptations (like Game of Thrones and American Gods) I think that in the case of The Expanse the book version is better than the filmed version. This is probably because the books are written in such a fast-paced, action-packed, visually stimulating way that reading them is basically like riding a rollercoaster or watching a Hollywood blockbuster. So perhaps there is not as much "value added" to adapting The Expanse to television when the words on the page have already (over)stimulated the reader's imagination; However I applaud SyFy for doing so and I am a big fan of the show.

If you have not read these books yet it is hard to know what I can say to convince you to do so without revealing spoilers. The first point I would make is that these books are the very best that the space-opera genre has to offer. The books are set in a future where humanity has made significant inroads into colonizing our solar system, with self-sustaining settlements on various solar objects (Mars, the Moon, Ganymede, multiple asteroids). The second point I would make is that the primary characters that the series are centered around are nuanced, interesting and diverse.

One animating plot development for the series as a whole involves the arrival/discovery of an alien substance called the "protomolecule" which has a destabilizing impact on the fragile power balance between the largest political forces in the solar system: Mars, Earth and the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA).

In Persepolis Rising, the story has skipped ahead 3 decades from the shocking (and thrilling) plot developments in the prior book Babylon's Ashes. Obviously, this time jump has a profound effect on the main characters but there are even more surprising developments in Persepolis Rising which basically re-orders the powers that be in the solar system even after 30 years in which the political calculus had been changing slowly and inexorably in a certain direction.

These jolting plot developments make sense, because the authors of the Expanse series (James S.A. Corey is a pseudonym for Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham) have stated that it will be 9 books long, consisting of three sets of trilogies, which would make this 7th book the first book in the final trilogy. Thus it is not surprising that there a lot of things are put in motion in Persepolis Rising which will presumably need to be resolved in future books. (However, there are definitely a lot of satisfying resolutions of sub-plots in Persepolis Rising as well.) Even more important is that we start to get some information about the protomolecule itself (and the creatures who created it) which does give support for the idea that we are hurtling towards the conclusion of the entire 9-book story arc.

Overall, Persepolis Rising is one of the best entries in The Expanse series. It is tautly plotted, incredibly thrilling and emotionally resonant. I knew it would probably be one of my favorite reads of the year so that even though I pre-ordered it for arrival on its day of release, I waited until the holiday season to read the book and ended up devouring it in one day (it was absolutely impossible to put down)! And maybe that's the most convincing thing I can say to encourage you to start reading this incredible series of books. You will NOT be disappointed.

Title: Persepolis Rising (The Expanse, #7).
 James S.A. Corey.
Paperback: 548 pages.
Date Published: December 5, 2017.
Date Read: December 25, 2017.

★★  (5.0/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A+/A (4.167/4.0).


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