Sunday, February 11, 2018

Book Review of "Death's End - by Liu Cixin"

"At what point does life become not worth living ? Faced with an inevitable extinction event, how would one think & behave?" - asks Cheng Xin, the protagonist of "Death's End" - the final book in the mind bogglingly amazing Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy. To me, Death's End is probably the weakest of the three books with the middle volume, The Dark Forest, clearly being the best. That being said, this third book by itself is still a pretty good read -  a solid 4/5. 

Author Liu Cixin continues his masterful plotting, criss-crossing multiple characters & multiple stories - spread across literally centuries. Some of storylines that have been building up for the last 3 books do end up with a dramatic crescendo. There is a chapter in the book where children's fairy tales are used to embed secret scientific messages and it is one of the most perfectly executed plots.

But Death's End is unfortunately not without its faults - the main one being its protagonist - a super-smart female aerospace engineer named Cheng Xin. She is intelligent, emotional & empathetic. But due to the sheer number of things that happen in this book, there is no time to add any depths to her character and she just comes across as an exposition tool or a glorified narrator for us, the readers. "Luo Ji", the main character of The Dark Forest, was interestingly conflicted and had a much nuanced personality.

The second and probably the most glaring issue is that the last 20% of the book just drags on. The author has literally tried to fit so many things that the overabundance of ideas feels tiring. The story could have been neatly tied up and finished at the 80% mark itself making the last 1/5th of the book feel like a weird last-minute unnecessary idea-cramming.

But anyhoo, this is not a deal-breaker. Death's End is still a great read and I would very highly recommend The Remembrance of Earth's Past Trilogy to any science fiction reader. 4/5 for Death's End but a definite 5/5 for the trilogy as a whole.

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