Book Review – Cibola Burn

Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m a fan of the Expanse series. The books typically have a sweeping, high-stakes story arc with memorable characters and epic, movie-ready scenes. The realistic details of space travel (inertia, false gravity, etc.) alone give this series a special place on my shelf. And I have to admit, the fantastic TV adaptation now in its second season on SyFy causes me to view past reading experiences of the series with rose colored glasses (they couldn’t have cast the show better).

But now for a break from our regularly scheduled programming. The crew of the Rocinante enter our story for very contrived reasons and are essentially the only good thing about the book. While Captain Holden and co have some great moments amidst the drudgery of the main plot line, it doesn’t entirely make up for the uninteresting new POV characters, mundane little bites of crisis and boring obstacle, and generally forgettable events. I wonder if the authors regret doing huge, intense story lines before that have apparently become tough acts to follow. I’m personally glad this book came after more solid entries in the series, as it makes it easier to forgive and move on to (or wait for) the next.

In addition to our main characters from the previous books being wonderful as always, large swaths of redemption flow from the interludes and afterword. They remind the reader there’s more to the Expanse universe than this strange bad luck, low stakes side tour.

3.5 stars under a normal rating system (it was a fine book with some high points here and there) but 2.5 under Goodreads’ inflated system. Rounding that 2.5 to a 3 because of an old character who got to make some big appearances.

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