Nemesis Games

By James S. A. Corey

Most of you will know that I’m horribly biased about these Expanse novels, having a personal connection to the authors as well as the roots of the story. So I’ll just come out and admit that I enjoyed the hell out of this book, even though I completely understand some of the criticisms I’ve heard of it. The series is, as I understand it, planned to span either 9 or 12 volumes, depending on sales and the whims of the publisher. As the fifth book, then, Nemesis Games is pretty squarely positioned as the second-act turning point of the series, the part where all hell breaks loose—the Empire Strikes Back moment, as it were. And, yeah, that’s pretty much what happens.

The Rocinante gang, freshly back from their trip to the colony world Ilus, feel a bit of down time and go their separate ways. Thus, for the first time, each crewmember becomes a point-of-view character, which was particularly gratifying for me when it came to the Amos chapters. And, of course, the moment they split up, everything hits the fan. As we’ve come to expect from this series, there are conspiracies and terrorism and plots, and a whole lot of high-stakes action. Much of this is left a bit unresolved, but these books tend to be written in pairs, with the odd-numbered books providing the setup and the even numbers paying things off, so it only makes sense.

The main criticism I’ve heard, one that I agree with, has to do with how the female characters are handled, what their story functions are. And, yeah, it’s not great. One supporting character seems to only exist to be rescued, and the additions to one of the main characters’ backstory is disappointing in centering (as so often is the case with female characters) on her feelings about motherhood. Several of my friends were quite angry about the way women were written in this book, and I can’t blame them. I haven’t talked with the authors about this complaint, but I know both of them are thoughtful and open-minded, so I’m hopeful that things will be better in this regard in future episodes. (Thus far, there has been a pretty diverse cast of women in this series, with a broad range of personalities and motivations, so I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to assume that this will be the case going forward.)

Even so, I’m completely on-board with this series, and, as I mentioned, I really liked this book. If you’ve been following along already, you’ve probably already read this one, and if you’re new to the series and are a fan of science fiction, I give it a high recommendation. Check it out.

Started: 6/12/2015 | Finished: 6/18/2015

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