Saturday, 18 June 2016

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

I've long suspected that governments carry out secret projects.  In this novel, author Cixin Liu imagines the Chinese have sent their own alternate message out into space and they received a response. The general public know nothing of this, though one group seeks to use this knowledge for their cause.

While I enjoyed the essential plot of the story, there was a sense of not understanding that hounded me through the entire book.  It started with not knowing about the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, and then not being able to follow the scientific explanations.  A paragraph or two explaining the basic of the Cultural Revolution would have helped immensely or at least assured me that I knew all I needed to follow the plot.  The author is obviously quite a bright man, though I felt he had trouble writing about science in terms that a non-science reader could fully understand.  The plot makes sense even if the reader doesn't understand all the science, but for me, I hate skipping paragraphs for that reason. I want to read and understand the entire book.

Professor Wang Miao is almost an interesting character.  He doesn't want the role he's been forced into, though he realizes he has no choice but to make the best of it.  Police Detective Shi Quang stopped short of being an amazing character that you loved to hate.  I didn't make an emotional connection with any of the characters in the book. Their personalities didn't emerge during the telling. I don't know whether this is the fault of the author or they were lost in translation to English.

Unfortunately this book was not a winner for me.  I did finish reading as I wanted to learn what happened, but I have no desire at this point to read the next instalment in this trio.

Cover image courtesy  Visit this link to read an excerpt of chapters 1-3.

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