The Expanse series, Book 4
James S. A. Corey
DESCRIPTION: When the alien protomolecule completed its programming and constructed the ring, it opened a gateway to a thousand worlds - and, still, there doesn't seem to be enough space for humans to stop fighting over territory. A crew of desperate refugees jumped ahead of slow-moving governments, squatting on a planet that's now been claimed by the Royal Charter Energy megacorporation. Even as the first RCE shuttle attempts to land, bringing scientists and security forces and a new colonial governor, an explosion rips through the launchpad and first blood is spilled.
Thanks to his previous work with the UN, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are sent as mediators... but it's impossible to negotiate a peace nobody wants. As Holden attempts to prevent further escalation, the planet itself might be their greatest enemy, with the first truly alien biome humans have encountered. There's also the fact that this world, like all worlds beyond the rings, was once inhabited by a civilization advanced enough to engineer the protomolecule... a civilization that was wiped out by an as-yet-unknown threat. Even after a billion years, that threat may still be waiting.
REVIEW: After the third volume, which started getting a little too "spiritual" for my tastes, I was wary about continuing the Expanse series. But Amazon Prime will be getting the second season of the TV show later this year, and I wanted to get back in that frame of mind, so I dug in... and was pleasantly surprised. This book is a welcome return to pace and form, an action-filled space opera that keeps ratcheting up tension and stakes to the very end. The characters may not be the deepest, and there's the faintest whiff of an underlying formula, but it kept me entertained and I cared about the people I was supposed to care about, plus it had some nice sense-of-wonder "eye candy" moments. The authors are also touching bases with characters from previous books, with hints that they might have bigger roles to play in the ongoing arc. I'm looking forward to reading the next volume, and finding out where things go from here.
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