This books are just THE BEST, and they do the amazing in which they enhance an already great TV show (I will completely caveat that I specifically hold off on reading until I’ve seen the show, I’m not saying that the show is better but I am very into the Spectacle and the work that’s gone into the show. Now that the show is openly going to end after the upcoming sixth season, with noted deviations from the books because real world humans are terrible, I’m unclear as to whether I’ll read ahead to Babylon’s Ashes).
Also now that Drummer (DRUMMER!!!) is back in the play of things, I find myself much more happy with the books. Missing my Polyam Belter Fam, but at least I can imagine her kicking ass.
SO! Nemesis Games, excellent all around, a perfect blend of character development and plot and momentum to get us going towards what I have heard is a time skipped second arc. The pieces are in play now, more or less–Earth has suffered a cataclysmic loss, our favorites are scattered around the universe, and it seems like everyone has taken their eyes off of the larger enemy to just do some useless infighting.
The aliens that sent the protomolecule hadn’t needed to destroy humanity. They’d given humans the opportunity to destroy themselves, and as a species, they’d leaped on it.
So, some thoughts:
– One of the things I didn’t fully appreciate from the show (probably because of the difficulties of casting and showing it) is the effect of gravity and gravity wells on the Belter community…and how that relates to the new worlds. In a different universe, you’d imagine that they would have cast only very tall, lanky types to play Belters, so that you never forget that they have entirely developed in a world without 1g of gravity. And then you’d realize that the dreams of settling on the surface of new worlds is utterly out of reach for them. They might be human, but they’re all Belter first and are facing the gradual extinction of their society. A thousand worlds might as well be a million or zero if you aren’t able to live on them.
– Naomi here hasn’t shared her past with anyone on the crew, which means she’s carrying a lifetime of shame along with everything else that she has to deal with as a Belter in Inner spaces. I’ve spent a lot of time the past year and a half learning about how shame infiltrates and ruins your ability to love yourself, and I loved book Naomi as much as I love Dominique Tipper and her tour de force this past season. And yes, I thought Season 5 was a bit weirdly paced…but it could have been fixed with more Expanse for everyone. Not a single second did I spend with Naomi without thinking she’s the toughest person in the entire known universe–as much for her engineering know how as for the personal demons she’s had to face, all by herself.
– the themes of family and found family. I’m a sucker for these sorts of plots, the ones where the bonds of friends-as-family are tested and found true and drive the emotional core of a story. The Golden Trio popping into one another’s houses as adults, the Circle of Magic mages always making time for reunions that don’t involve murderous Empresses, even the Babysitters Club members showing up at one another’s houses…we need to constantly emphasize the importance of friendships in society, and I love that every one of the characters sits and grapples with what the Roci means to them. And look, it’s not like people don’t change–as Alex notes, everyone has changed by the time the book ends, and there’ll be new people on board soon, and things can’t be static. But these four have found their tribe and it’ll serve them well in the unknown beyond.