James S.A. Corey – Caliban’s War (The Expanse Book 2)
The second book in The Expanse series. While it has the same general story arc as the second season of the tv series, there are plenty of differences in how events happen, and how characters meet and interact. It also introduces my two favorite characters in the series, Chrisjen Avasarala and Sgt. Roberta Draper.
Avasarala is a high-ranking UN politician. She is intelligent, cynical, and conniving, and has a surprisingly creative potty mouth, which is often a bit shocking, coming as it does from a septuagenarian in a sari. As the novel progresses, her character is filled out with little details such as a fondness for pistachios, which she always keeps in her purse, and a loving relationship with her husband, whose gentle personality could not be more different than hers. While highly observant about political strategy and personal dynamics, she can also be oblivious to what is going on right in front of her.
Draper is a physically imposing Martian marine, who even ancient Spartans might have considered a dedicated soldier. She is the lone survivor of an attack by human-alien protomolecule hybrid, which sparks a Mars-UN war. She is sent to Earth to appear in diplomatic hearings while still dealing with the trauma from the attack, and Earth gravity and culture are a bit of a shock to her, as is her obvious use by her superiors as a pawn. Events lead to Avasarala hiring her as an assistant, and they develop a nice rapport. Despite Draper’s conflicted feelings about working for the enemy, she realizes they both want peace, and are on the same side. Draper and Avasarala also have some amusing culture clash moments, both with each other and with the other characters.