Book Review: The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin LiuThe Three-Body Problem: What it is about

From B&N: “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.

The Three-Body Problem: What I thought

I came across this book in a book store and it looked very special, a real find. I was keen to read it soon, so I made April East-Asia month! This is the first book by an East-Asian writer that I finished this month.

It was definitely a special book, but also a little cumbersome. First of all, there was some Cultural Revolution stuff that I wasn’t interested in, but I guess it was needed, because the story did (and had to) cover that time period as well as more recent times. Secondly, there was a lot of science in this science fiction novel. I can handle a lot of science in a novel, but sometimes this went a little too far even for me. At other times, I was pleasantly surprised by a particular scientific explanation. The explanation of the three-body problem especially, in relation to three suns, was very clever.

The blurb suggested an interaction between earthlings and aliens, but it took quite a while before the aliens entered the story. This was my main attraction to the book, so that was a pity. There were some very clever ideas about these aliens (for instance, they would dehydrate when it was too cold to live on their planet and re-hydrate when the temperature was favorable again).

There were several protagonists in the book, and it was hard to feel attached to them and their story. Towards the end of the book, several chapters dealt with the aliens on their planet, trying to unfold a proton, leading to hilarious effects. This was interesting to read, but it felt a little strange to have them appear as protagonists this late in the story.

The idea of what happened on Earth when people found out about the alien contact, and the expectation that they would come to visit at some point in the future, seemed quite likely: there are of course (of course!) several factions with different ideas of what should be done, people trying to have sole access to the transmissions, etc.

While this was at times a difficult and not always interesting book, I loved the ideas that were presented. I feel reading this book was great experience, and I love the new ideas about humanity, aliens, and the future I now have been exposed to. This is the first part of a trilogy, and I both do and don’t look forward to reading the next part. I’m curious how the story continues but I do wonder whether many more great ideas can be included in the story.


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (good)

Number of pages: 400

First published: 2006

Translated: from the Chinese by Ken Liu

I got this: bought in a book shop

Genre: science fiction

 

Winner of the Literary Blog Hop

blog-hopIt’s the end of the Literary Blog Hop and time to announce the winner.

The winner is…

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

ashfaanwer

Congratulations! I’ll send you an email to ask you for your address details. Please answer this within 3 days.

Thanks to everyone who participated.

Did you take part in the hop? And… did you win anything?

Book Review: Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander EssbaumHausfrau: What it is about

From the publishers: “Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno—a banker—and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters with an ease that surprises even her.

But Anna can’t easily extract herself from these affairs. When she wants to end them, she finds it’s difficult. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back.”

Hausfrau: What I thought

Anna isn’t exactly an endearing main character. I found her rather frustrating. She’s been in Switzerland for nine years, but she has hardly any friends, doesn’t speak the language, and the people in the village where she lives aren’t very forthcoming. Or so she thinks. But she hasn’t tried very hard. She’s waiting for something to happen and doesn’t undertake much action herself. Until she starts her German lessons and meets new people. Ex-pats, just like her.

It was both recognizable and totally strange for me. I also spent many years in a foreign country. I spoke the language, I had friends, and made an effort not to get acquainted to ex-pats. But at times, I also felt like a foreigner who stood forever outside the real society. Still, having kids helped, and Anna should have made good use of the mothers she’d meet via her children.

The story is built up really nicely. The story in the current time is often interrupted by flash backs to a few years ago, or sometimes to a few days ago. The flash back to the past make sense, but I wasn’t sure why the author sometimes moved the current story forward by a few days or weeks, and then looked back on the days just before. There were also short paragraphs in which conversations with her therapist were related. The therapist often came with some fantastic insights, but I found her a little too clever. Also, I wasn’t quite sure when Anna actually went to see the therapist. It wasn’t mentioned as part of her daily or weekly program.

Having said that, I just loved the way it was written. Amazing, given that I didn’t particularly liked Anna. But her story was interesting, and I was wondering what would happen. Would her husband find out about her affairs? Would she finally make some friends? The ending was totally unexpected, and I’m not sure I was too happy with it. It was a possible ending, but I did not expect this, and it didn’t seem to be the most interesting conclusion to the story.

While I have some reservations about the story and, especially, about Anna, the main character, I very much enjoyed reading this novel.


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (very good)

Number of pages: 328

First published: 2015

I got this: from my local Random House representative

Genre: mystery

 

Literary Blog Hop

blog-hop My Book Self is organising a Literary Blog Hop! A number of blogs are offering literary prizes. Visit them all and try your luck. But first enter here at Leeswammes’ Blog! I have a book so new, it was published just a week ago and it’s fan.tas.tic! I finished it today and decided, this is the book to offer for the blog hop (no review yet). Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum The publisher says: “Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno—a banker—and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters with an ease that surprises even her. But Anna can’t easily extract herself from these affairs. When she wants to end them, she finds it’s difficult. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back.”


To enter

To enter, please read the rules and then fill out the form below.

The rules:

  1. Anyone can enter. You do not need to have a blog.
  2. You do not have to be a follower of my blog or become a follower, although if you like my blog I hope you will! You can follow by email or by RSS (see buttons in the side bar on the right at the top).
  3. There will be one winner.
  4. You need an address where bookdepository will deliver.
  5. Leave a comment to say you’d like to win the book. You can enter the giveaway until Sunday April 12th. I will close the giveaway when I turn on my computer on April 13th (Netherlands time).
  6. Tweet about the giveaway for ONE extra entry. Use this text: Win Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum in the Literary Blog Hop http://wp.me/pTjfK-4MG
  7. Note that double or invalid entries will be removed.
  8. I will notify the winner by email. The winner need to answer my email within 3 days, or I’ll announce a new winner.
  9. That’s it! Good luck and thanks for playing.

Now go to the other blogs and try your luck!

Click here to view the list with participating blogs.

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