Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Holy Time-Skip, Batman! As is clear from the first chapter (and maybe the synopsis? I never read those once I know I’m going to read a book because they tend to spoil a bit or mess with my expectations) we’ve jumped 30 years into the future. I would have to say that is probably the second ot third best thing James S.A. Corey have done in this series. Yeah, earlier on there was a five year time-skip, but things for the crew of the Roci and the Solar System as a whole hadn’t changed much. But with this book we get something that I wish more authors (and the comic book industry) would do – show us what happens to the characters we have become attached to when they’ve grown old and had to deal with the consequences of their actions. (Or, in the case of the Mistborn series of trilogies – what happens 700 years after you massively change the world) I was constantly enjoying seeing the world that was the consequence of the actions of book 6 (and, to some extent, all of Holden’s life since the Protomolecule).
Not only that, but you just can’t get out of the same scrapes 30 years later. When I was in high school I was up until 2AM almost every day and at school at 7AM and alert and awake enough to score all As and Bs. My mom came to visit me a couple weeks ago and I stayed up 3 days in a row and it wrecked me, allowing me to get seriously sick for most of a week and I’m still not 100% recovered. While Holden and Naomi were usually using their brains to get out of trouble, Amos and Bobbie were usually the muscle. There are consequences now to their age.
At the same time, it gave some realism to what happened in Laconia. Our primary antagonist was just a kid during the events of book 6. Now he was an adult old enough to command a ship. But the previous world didn’t mean anything to him.
As for the structure of the book, we got a very good chunk of POVs. In fact, while it didn’t cycle through too many for the majority of the book, I think by the last chapter everyone from the Roci had at least one POV chapter. That was as ton of fun, especially when it came to Bobbie and Amos. But, really, my favorite POV ever since JSAC started doing it around book 2 or 3 is the POV of the antagonist. Like any good modern novel, the antagonists are not mustache-twirling balls of evil. They are folks who believe they are making the right choice – as the saying goes “everyone is the hero of their story”. While there are sociopaths, I think that’s why I had the least fun with the villain of Ilus. Contrarily, I thought Filip was a great POV character for that chunk of story and the character growth he had back a couple books ago.
One thing the flipping POVs brings into relief is the saying that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”. We often end up rooting for terrorists (eg Final Fantasy VII’s characters) in books because we’re on their side. They’re defeating the evil empire or whatever. But by flipping back and forth it brings it much more into relief that terrorism isn’t quite as simple as it’s portrayed in the media in our real world.
As a student of history, it can be pretty interesting to read how history can swing on the egos of the powerful. There have been great examples of that in this series and that continues with this book.
The book ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger, but since book 8 only just came out and book 9 is not due out for some time, I’m not in a hurry to get to the next one. Either I wait now or I wait later. This isn’t a slam on this book or the story. If book 9 was out, I’d just tear through those two to see what ending JSAC have in story for this saga.
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