After reading the first book, I was still intrigued, I liked the series, and I wanted some more women to actually take an active part in the plot (and not be fridged like Jim Holden’s girlfriend at the beginning, whose name I can’t even remember). Naomi doesn’t quite get to shine, though she does at least keep Holden and the Roci on the right moral track, but we get Bobbie Draper and Avasarala, both of whom are awesome and kick butt in so many ways. And Avasarala is a grandmother, so it’s not like she’s a nubile young beauty.
In terms of the emotional heart, it’s still Jim Holden and his crew, but the new characters do help to make the rest of the action riveting. I kind of hope I’ll see more of them, but having glanced through the chapter headings for Abaddon’s Gate, I haven’t seen Avasarala or Bobbie there…
In terms of the plot, it mostly ticks along at a good pace, mostly driven for me by curiosity about the protomolecule and what it’s doing, what it’s done, and what’s going to happen next. Holden’s crew just sort of bounce around as always, while Avasarala does politics and Bobbie waits to shoot things. So far so good, for a space opera. Just… one major quibble, which is a bit spoilery. So some kids are abducted and that provides the impetus for Holden and the Roci to bounce around the solar system a bit more, helping Prax, a botanist, get his daughter back. Yet nobody seems to ask why the kids were adopted until about 500 pages into a 600 page book, where the biologist — who mentioned having dissected bodies, etc, so he’s not just a botanist — finally realises that hey, they’ve abducted his kid who doesn’t have an immune system because she’ll make a good incubator for the protomolecule: her body won’t fight it.
Guys, I was there 400 pages ago at least (and I’m just an undergrad biologist, not some kind of professional). As soon as you know Mei’s condition, the reason she’s been abducted makes perfect sense. And it makes no sense for people to keep bouncing around without actually stopping to figure that out.
Nonetheless, I just kind of… chew it up like popcorn for my brain. Works for me.