Review: Abaddon’s Gate

Posted 24 July, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Abaddon’s Gate (The Expanse #3)
By: James S.A. Corey
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy

For generations, the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt – was humanity’s great frontier. Until now. The alien artefact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has emerged to build a massive structure outside the orbit of Uranus: a gate that leads into a starless dark.

Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artefact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.

Firstly, I love how consistently awesome the book covers have been for this series. Very pretty and appealing and obviously sci-fi. Anyways, I was pretty psyched to pick up this novel when it came out in June; I had enjoyed the first novel, Leviathan Wakes (review), and getting this third novel was a prompt to get around to Caliban’s War (review). So here I am, at the third novel of this series (and more or less at the end of the first arc of the story, if I read it correctly somewhere). Contains some minor spoilers if you have not read the previous novels in the series!

Hmm, it pains me to say this, especially as I loved the first novel, but I may have hyped it a bit too much in my head. Some questions were answered in this novel and frictions between solar political organisations have hit another boiling point but we are still left with many more questions: who created the protomolecule that created these gates? Why did they do off/where did they go? Who were they against? The universe is pretty much blown open with Holden’s confrontation but I would’ve loved to have read more scenes between him and gates!Miller.

Speaking of which, it was a pretty awesome cliffhanger to re-introduce Miller at the end of Caliban’s War; in this volume, we find out what/why he’s back, which not only plays a role in the mystery of the gates but also helps bring Holden’s story to a full circle. While I mentioned that new questions are posed in this novel and others answered, the latter is important because it effectively ties up the final loose threads that have been dangling since Leviathan Wakes. Holden’s character journey also looks like it comes to a realisation or mellowing down of sorts; he had spent most of the second novel reeling in the aftermath of what he had experienced and seen in the first novel, going down a dark and twisty path where his friends and colleagues did not recognise him. By this novel though he has finally realised what is important to him–what he really wants out of life–and it was interesting to see how he comes together and acts on these realisations.

Additionally, I think I was a little impatient that we didn’t get more scenes about the gates and gates!Miller because of the inter-organisational frictions that burst into the open. Lave it to humanity to implode into itself when things get really serious/hairy/confusing O_o

So why was I left rather meh by this novel? Mostly because of the character POVs; new characters were once again introduced in this novel, each coming from a different political group/social situation who provide a different insight on the on-going situation. Unlike the previous novel though, I didn’t really warm or care for the new characters: Anna was okay but didn’t strike my interest even as she was dealing with the more inter-organisational friction, Bull was interesting but some of his chapters dragged and Melba was…strange. It was interesting to have Melba’s character thrown in the mix but I wasn’t entirely sure what to get out of her arc and I did not find her wholly sympathetic to at least understand her on-going motives.

Abaddon’s Gate, like the previous novels, are high on action and mystery. Characters are brought into the fray and once again the universe decides to go all crappy on Jim Holden’s life, leaving him in a sucky situation to get out of. I’m going to have to re-read this novel at some point to firmly grasp some of the events that happened because my lack of interest in the new characters left me rather indifferent by the turn of events. But despite of my personal reactions to the story, it’s still an entertaining novel and readers of the other two books and of science fiction will enjoy this.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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