Book Review: Cibola Burn (The Expanse, #4) by James S.A. Corey

Book Review: Cibola Burn (The Expanse, #4) by James S.A. Corey

Cover Illustration by: Daniel Dociu

Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Expanse (Book #4 of 9)

Genre: Sci-fi, Space Opera

Pages: 587 pages (UK paperback)

Published: 17th June 2014 by Orbit


Cibola Burn brings The Expanse back to its good form.

Cibola Burn, the fourth volume in The Expanse series, has often been said as the weakest book of the series. And after the previous books—Abaddon’s Gate and the novellas/short stories of the series which I’ve read so far— which left me disappointed, I was seriously scared this one would be even worse. As it turns out, I ended up enjoying it.

“Right,” Holden said. “No coffee. This is a terrible, terrible planet.”

Not only there’s no coffee, but the tension between the people on the planet of Ilus is rising. To mediate, Avasarala sends Holden and the crew of Rocinante to Ilus to resolve the matter. Little did they know that in addition to being mediator, the planet of Ilus also has their own danger such as blindness plague, deadly slugs, and deadly storms. There aren’t many noteworthy things to elaborate in terms of plot; the series has followed a formulaic storytelling structure for the past three books, and it’s still the same here. However, Holden and the crew of Rocinante continue to entertain with their great relationship developments, and the new POV characters were, in my opinion, far more engaging than the one we had in Abaddon’s Gate.

“Later, when you’re wishing we had this stuff, I am going to be merciless in my mockery. And then we’ll die.”

The superb parts about this book, and pretty much the series, have always been the characters. In Cibola Burn, it was engrossing to see how much the friendship and trust between Holden and Amos grew. For the remaining crew of the Rocinante, Naomi and Alex also have to cooperate while they’re separated from Holden and Amos. In a way that’s a bit similar to Prax, one of the new POV character here—Basia—deals with his struggle in doing everything he can to protect his family. The main villain of this novel—Murtry—was cold-blooded and intimidating as a villain. In other words, I can sum up Cibola Burn as being a step-up to the things that Abaddon’s Gate didn’t get right for me.

“Last man standing,” Amos replied with another grin. “It’s in my job description.”

As much as I enjoyed Cibola Burn, I must also admit that the series is starting to get a bit stale and too repetitive. That’s also why my review for the series continuously gets shorter, because there aren’t many new elements to talk about with each new installment. I’m almost halfway through the series now, and at the moment, I do think that the series is slightly overrated. It’s still great, of course, but so many modern sci-fi readers consider it the best sci-fi series to exist in decades; I personally think it’s a good series that averaged steadily at 4-stars rating. This is only my assessment of the series so far, though, I’ve heard the second half, starting from Nemesis Games, is where the series starts improving dramatically. Let’s hope I agree with that.


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