Nemesis Games

Nemesis GamesNemesis Games by James S. A. Corey
Series: The Expanse #5
Publisher: Orbit Books
Released: June 2, 2015
Pages: 536
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The fifth novel in Corey's New York Times bestselling Expanse series--now being produced for television by the SyFy Channel!

A thousand worlds have opened, and the greatest land rush in human history has begun. As wave after wave of colonists leave, the power structures of the old solar system begin to buckle.

Ships are disappearing without a trace. Private armies are being secretly formed. The sole remaining protomolecule sample is stolen. Terrorist attacks previously considered impossible bring the inner planets to their knees. The sins of the past are returning to exact a terrible price.

And as a new human order is struggling to be born in blood and fire, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante must struggle to survive and get back to the only home they have left.

Well… Wow. I’ve been through quite a few Expanse books by now, and as much as I’ve really liked them, I’ve been waiting to really love one of them. I really loved this one.

Nemesis Games finally did what I have been aching for these books to do, it started fleshing out the main characters. And boy did it flesh out the main characters. In an unexpected, but, considering the previous Expanse-book, not entirely surprising turn of events, this book starts going off in a new and interesting direction, and just continues moving further and further in that very direction. I’d call it brave, and I suppose it is, but at this point, everything about these books seems so effortless and well thought through that the authors could probably start introducing space-sharks while still making me believe that they were going somewhere sensible and that the story was in safe hands.

The main characters are duly developed, not through exposition, but through demonstration. Interestingly the relative normality in which we see more of their true colours becomes disconcerting in itself. We know these characters, we love these characters, but we’ve only really seen them interact with each other and a couple of incidental characters they meet along the way – all while doing extraordinary things in extraordinary situations – in space. In Nemesis Games, we get to see how they act in settings that represent their respective backgrounds, which forces them to act more like the normal human beings they once were rather than the space-heroes they became.

Though, as satisfying as the character-development is, the thing that pushes Nemesis Games over the edge is the true and raw emotion that permeates large parts of this book. I can’t really say more than that for fear of spoiling something, so I won’t, but suffice to say that this book more than any of the others made me feel properly sad about what was going on in it. And it didn’t even feel manipulative. The characters all have to endure some tragic events which get thrust upon them, and the understated and realistic way in which we see them gradually process their emotions stands in sharp contrast to the dramatic, “making a scene”-style of sadness and anger one often sees in fiction. In this book, the characters don’t get to have any outbursts. Instead, they have to properly deal with what has happened. You can tell that what they are going through affects their words and actions, you can tell that the grief is there, and despite the relative lack of loud outbursts and dramatic reactions, you can tell that it will continue to stay with them. The events of this book were devastating enough in themselves, but there is nothing quite so sad as witnessing the sadness of others, and knowing that the characters that have become so familiar are going to have to continue living with this grief was more of a kick to the stomach than I expected it to be.

If there is one thing that could be said about Nemesis Games that might irritate some, it is that it tries to be several different books at once. However, it blends them together excellently. I didn’t ever find it to be boring, nothing ever feels like it’s filler or a setup to something that is to come. It’s a story that flies off the page and feels a lot shorter than it is. I’m really looking forward to what might happen next… though, despite my unwavering faith in these books, I do kind of hope it doesn’t involve space-sharks.

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