Book reviews / Science Fiction

Book review: The Three-Body Problem

Yay! I read a book! I’m currently neck-deep in PhD writing and so haven’t been reading that much outside of that area.

However, this weekend I was going to take a break and read something fun. I bought The Three-Body Problem on a wander through Forbidden Planet not that long ago but still hadn’t read it.

I’ve had a sort of unofficial official rule this year of only buying new sci-fi novels if they weren’t written by white dudes basically. So that limits the amount of books I buy, which is probably good as my shelves will only hold so many books.

Anyway, where to start on this book. The plot is…crazy. Essentially, there’s a cabal of people on Earth who want an alien race (Trisolarans) to come to Earth to either help it stop being terrible, completely eradicate humanity, or basically worship them as gods. IT’S COMPLICATED.

We see this mainly through the eyes of a nanoparticle engineer named Wang Miao and the astrophysicist Ye Wenjie, victim of China’s Cultural Revolution.

The plot jumps a lot. And I’m not talking about the time jump from the Cultural Revolution until now, it’s more about how the plot unfolds. We go from secretive meetings about a secretive war, to uncovering everyone in the plot, to finding out everything the aliens have done to stymie human scientific progress so they can invade. The Trisolarans want to invade as they have three suns and an extremely unstable world.

It was all very strange and kind of disjointed and a bit too convenient at times. Nonetheless, it was a fantastic read.

I adored all the historical context with the Cultural Revolution, it made such a fantastic backdrop to the story. What also was weird but also amazing, was the game that Wang gets involved with, which mixes the Trisolarans (the alien civilisation) history with references from Earth history. The Earth-Trisolaran Organisation use this game to recruit people to their philosophy (or philosophies, given they are divided in what they want the Trisolarans to do when they finally get to Earth). It was pretty cool.

What is also nice is the mix of characters, both men and women, who are mainly all scientists. They are all interesting and flawed and well rounded. They are problem let down a bit by the weird plot jumping but your heart really goes out to Ye Wenjie, even though she betrays the entire human race.

I will most likely pick up the next book in the series as I’d like to see where they the author takes it from here. Definitely recommend it as it’s so very different than a lot of science fiction I read but completely accessible. 4/5 stars.

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