Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Science Fiction
The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.
Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.
How I imagine this novel: picture a bunch of gears turning in unison. Now move those gears slightly away from each other so that they aren’t touching. Now, you’re left with a bunch of gears spinning by themselves affecting only themselves. The Three-Body Problem functions similarly to those gears.
The Three-Body Problem has an interesting premise, but its execution ultimately fails. There are a lot of moving parts to this novel that are all intricate and intriguing, however they don’t connect to create a cohesive story. Part of the reason that they don’t connect is the pacing and the timeline the story is told through.
The pacing of the novel is inconsistent. There are stretches that are fast paced and interesting followed by long stretches of slow moving plot and expository dialogue. The inconsistency makes it hard to be fully invested in the characters and story.
The author chose to tell the story in a non linear fashion, so the story is constantly jumping from the past to the present. This usually isn’t a problem in most books because it often creates suspense and mystery. However, the premise of The Three-Body Problem reveals the mystery that this type of storytelling is trying to create. So, by the middle of the novel the reader is left wondering just what the hell they’re reading since what is revealed in the premise still isn’t revealed.
By the end of the novel, I was hooked because there are so many interesting ideas. Unfortunately, all the elements do not create a cohesive story leaving the ending of the novel feeling separate from the rest.
Overall, The Three-Body Problem has many interesting ideas that aren’t connected leaving the novel feeling like gears spinning independently from each other unable to generate a cohesive final product.