When I first started reading this book, I had no intention of writing and posting a review on here. It was “hard” Science Fiction and that was a sub-genre I was unfamiliar with and in some ways, I was intimidated to write a review, afraid that I would get something wrong or misunderstand something.
But I enjoyed the The Three-Body Problem so much that I decided to read the entire series. And if I was going to make a commitment like that, then I decided I may as well write a review for each book.
Set in China during and after the Chinese Cultural Revolution, The Three-Body Problem follows different characters as they work through several mysteries that begin and end at Red Coast Base, government project created to establish a line of communication between the human race and extraterrestrial life.
When I think about this book, I think about the narrative’s scope. The entire series spans across several centuries, but the catalyst happens in the 1970s when Ye Wenjie makes a decision that impacts all of humanity. That’s what I genuinely enjoyed about the first book (and what I’m enjoying in the second book). Ye Wenjie’s reasoning behind her decision are oddly relatable. The beginning part of the book explores the suffering she and her family underwent during the Cultural Revolution and these early years haunted her and led her to see the flaws in humanity. She has a poor opinion of humanity, that is parceled out over the course of the story, making it easier to understand why she makes her ultimate damning decision. I think this first book is an excellent example of character development and how it can be both progressive and regressive.
I also want to comment on the world-building in this book. The middle section of the book and the largest portion of the story, revolves around a Virtual Realty (VR) game called “Three-Body Problem” which explores the creation and destruction of several civilizations. They thrive during Stable Eras and crumble during Chaotic Eras. The players of the game seek to discover a way to determine when the different eras will begin and end. The game is connected to the Trisolarians, the alien race who eventually make contact with humanity. The sections with the VR game are some of my favorite sections because they were imaginative and delved into scientific ideas that sometimes touched on philosophical dilemmas. And by the end of the story, the connection between the game and the Trisolarians becomes clear.
I’m still in the early part of the second book in the series, but I can already tell I’ll have plenty of great things to say about it when I write my review. If you’re a lover of science fiction, I highly recommend this book. Even though some of the scientific theories went over my head, it didn’t make it hard for me to understand the narrative as a whole. The first book raises interesting questions and I’m curious how it will all be resolved over the next two books.
I see why there is so much praise for this book! It’s a fantastic read!