Book review

The Three-Body Problem

by Liu Cixin (Author), Ken Liu (Translator)


I’d heard and read so much about this book, it’s won all sorts of awards, and when I came to it myself it was… underwhelming. There seemed to me to be some rather large plot holes (given the apparent god-like powers available to some of the participants).

To be fair, there was some interesting speculative science in here as well, which I enjoyed. However, I struggled with the characters: for many of the key ones, there actions seemed at best insufficiently motivated, and at worst simply transparent devices to move the story along its determined arc. Again, I did learn some interesting things about the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s and beyond, but I’m not sure that was the whole point.

It’s the first of a trilogy, and I’m not sure I can face the others. Too many books with a higher probability of being excellent out there for me to risk my time on another few hundred pages which will likely be as similarly a miss for me. It’s a shame when reading becomes an exercise in Bayesian statistics, but my prior odds on the next in the trilogy being worth my time aren’t looking good right now. Maybe I’ll get enough new information to change my mind!

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