Book Review — Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey

Cibola Burn (Expanse, #4)Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Never fear folks, the Expanse is back and better than ever! From recent news, we can expect five more novels and I couldn’t be a happier bookworm.

Cibola Burn is a massively exciting sci-fi novel—the summer blockbuster of the fiction world. Now, that’s not saying that it doesn’t have it’s deep and emotional moments, but let’s face it: we love reading these books because things go boom in space, and futuristic technology kicks ass.

Let me tell you just how good it is. I thought I’d sit down and read another chapter or two, and before I knew it, I looked up a couple of hours later having finished half the book in one sitting.


There are many POVs in Cibola Burn, but it does my favourite thing when it comes to stories like this: it connects them all and tells an interwoven story sort of like a massive four-sided Venn diagram. These aren’t separate POVs that act in a vacuum or on other sides of the realm. When a character makes a decision, you see the ramifications in all of the other POVs.

Often, scenes will cut at a crucial moment or just after, but you’ll back up a few minutes to see another reaction on what just happened. You know what’s coming, but it’s a surprisingly effective storytelling technique.

Cibola Burn also brings back one of the best parts about this series: the delicate politics between the inner and outer planets. I won’t spoil much, but I’ve found this has always been a strength to James S.A. Corey’s writing: the ability to think through the social and political complications of colonizing our solar system.

The villain is also incredible. He’s a smart and clever psychopath, though he isn’t unwilling to compromise and he doesn’t do stupid things. Always two steps ahead of Holden, he was the most infuriating and compelling part of this book. (And I know that sounds cliche. Shouldn’t all villains be like that? you ask. Well, trust me, it really, really works here).

My only complaint about this book is that a lot of the problems come from the world or story, and not necessarily from what the characters have put themselves in. I enjoy when situations are FUBAR because of decisions the characters have been forced to make, instead of “and now we’re going to have toxic slugs! and now your ship’s engines have failed! and now you’re all going blind! and now aliens are going to do this!” and so on.

All that being said, the characters did grow on me. The Rociante’s crew will always be dear to my heart, but Havelock and Basia became quick chums by the end too.

There’s something to be said about a book that can make you laugh so much but still manages to make you misty-eyed.


Don’t wait. This is the science-fiction series you need to be currently reading.

View all my reviews


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