I was enthusiastic to begin reading Nemesis Games when I saw that each chapter was about a member of the Rocinante crew. This was so refreshing after the past two novels that featured boring, pointless characters. I was excited to learn more about Naomi and Alex and, especially, Amos.
And, for part of Nemesis Games, that’s what I got. I followed Alex to Mars as he confronted his choice to leave his wife in favor of space travel. I was curious as Naomi met back up with her old crew, and became embroiled in a mysterious circumstance involving those Belters. I was enthralled as Amos returned to his old stomping grounds on Earth, reconnecting with the ghosts of his past.
But then it all became so… dull.
Naomi’s story, in particular, was infuriatingly boring. I never really understood why she agreed to help Marco, or even their son. I guess there is something to be said about motherly responsibility and maybe the guilt she felt at leaving, but what she did goes beyond that. Putting herself at risk by purchasing a ship for Filip, without any real explanation of what that ship would be used for, seemed very strange. And then, Naomi is imprisoned for the majority of the novel… again. Where she spent the majority of Cibola Burn captured by the uninteresting Havelock, here we have her spending most of her time around the boring and bland Belters that she thought were her friends.
Alex’s plot arc ends as quickly as it begins, with almost no closure whatsoever. I’m still not sure why exactly the OPA agents attacked Bobbie for information about Alex. Either it was never fully explained, or it was so meaningless that I simply don’t remember. Alex and Bobby spend the remainder of Nemesis Games in space, and it’s not nearly as interesting as it should be.
Amos’ story was not the most boring, but certainly the most disappointing. Clarissa Mao is used as a random plot device to keep Amos on Earth when the rocks fall. Amos and Clarissa travel, run into some random people, get in a few scuffles, and then end up on the Moon. While being my favorite character of the entire series, it pains me to say that even Amos’ chapters feel like pointless filler in Nemesis Games.
The entire plot of Nemesis Games is that a militant faction of the OPA decides to throw off the chains of the inner planets, and launches attacks against them. They send meteors down the gravity well of Earth, effectively destroying the planet. They attack a Martian transport in attempt to kill the Prime Minister. This faction assaults Tycho and steals Fred Johnson’s protomolecule sample. These events are stretched excruciatingly over the substantial length of the novel.
Nemesis Games reveals my biggest issue with The Expanse as a whole, and perhaps one that I should have realized sooner: immortal heroes. The crew of the Rocinante might as well be gods with their ability to survive catastrophe. This is most evident in Naomi’s story. She subjects herself to extremes such as braving the vacuum of space without an environmental suit, and she lives with a few minor inconveniences. I’m not saying that I wish any of the characters would die, but immortal heroes remove tension from the story. The sequence where Alex and Holden are desperate to rescue Naomi was boring rather than suspenseful, because the reader knows she is not in danger of dying.
What I liked most about Nemesis Games was the depiction of the attack on Earth. The complete surprise of meteors being thrown at the planet, and the resulting chaos and devastation, was shocking and realistic. In this regard, I did enjoy the multiple perspectives of the event. It was interesting and crushing to see each character’s reaction to the death of Earth. This was incredibly well done, in my opinion.
Overall, I feel like Nemesis Games was a disappointing waste of potential. In fact, the majority of this novel felt like filler. Other than the obvious story-altering events, everything else ended up being rather meaningless in the end.