Yeah, it’s all about the characters.
Which is to say: my ambivalence about various of the viewpoint characters in the last two books made them both feel like something of a slog. On the other hand, the use of Amos, Alex and Naomi as viewpoint characters helped make this book zip by—and it’s not just that I care about them, but that they are voices that I’m already accustomed to.
As for the what happens…I’m interested to see where it’s going in the long haul, beyond this book and the next. It’s interesting to realize that the seeds of many of the plotlines that drive this book were baked into the first couple of novels—clearly Abraham and Franck have had a larger plot planned out.
For instance, it seems clear the Martian commander who has an important, but off-camera role in this story is the same one who was involved in attempting to create the protomolecule soldiers in Caliban’s War.
Similarly, the past Naomi has always hinted at comes to a head, and some interesting plot points spin out of that…but at the same time, some of it doesn’t quite ring true to me. I understand the way that our old patterns resurface when we find ourselves back in those contexts, but Naomi seems weirdly naive for much of the beginning of the book, which just feels wrong since she’s a badass basically every other moment.
Undoubtedly the parts of the book that I most enjoyed were Alex and Amos’ elements. Alex’s is fun for a lot of reasons, including the fact that it brings back Bobby Draper, and they have a bit of a caper to solve.
Amos, on the other hand, takes a surprising detour, and ends up picking up Clarissa Mao…and she becomes an incredibly interesting character, because she seems to have truly embraced being a better person, being a more aware person, and ultimately making thoughtful choices. And the authors avoid it being pure Mary Sue…by making Holden consistently and forthrightly unhappy about her presence.
Anyway, much more fun than the last couple of novels, and a good setup for the next entry.