Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey

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Rate: 4/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (No Spoilers):

Despite harboring lingering skepticism regarding this series, left over from early installments of The Expanse, I’ve thoroughly liked the past two novels and look forward to the next book waiting in the queue. That being said, Cibola Burn could in no way be described a feel good read, with humanity at its worst as people expand beyond our solar system for the first time. Honestly, this was quite a painful read, particularly during several tortuous sections, and while it might sound hypocritical, I did enjoy this read as  whole. Despite taking pace in the far future, I couldn’t help but draw similarities to the wild, wild west regarding settlers vs. legalities. As much as I would hope civilization wouldn’t allow such chaos to ensue, there was still an unmistakable kernel of reality regarding the attitudes of both polarized parties. Our familiar crew was still present and managed to continue to find themselves in ever increasingly dangerous predicaments. At this point though, unless Corey evolves his writing pattern, the outcomes are beginning to fall precariously into the predictable realm. Overall, Cibola Burn was fast paced and action packed, keeping the reader on the edge of their seats regardless of the POV currently center stage, with the new world holding horrifying dangers in store for the new explorers.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
  • Basia’s growth throughout this read was satisfying, although he had me pulling my hair out at various points when his selfish, one sided view points threatened to endanger everyone. I’m still not quite convinced his redemption arc was worth while enough to forgive his past transgressions. It is interesting how Corey pulls in minor characters from the earlier novels to play larger roles in his future novels.
  • I loved that Elvi was a scientist and a strong female character. I did wish Corey had focused on some of the scientists up in the Edward Israel, other than the war crazy engineers.
  • Havelock was another blast from the past with being an old partner to Miller. I remembered liking his character so much in the first novel, and was relieved when he was able to break out of the obedient mold he had been stuck in for most of this read.
  • Is Miller really gone?
  • What trouble will find Jim Holden next?
  • Ugh, New Tera/Ilus held so many horrors from the world altering storm to toxic slugs. There has to be a more friendly world out there!
  • Why was only one company given the rights to do all the exploration?
  • Will Basia’s daughter continue on to college?
  • Murtry was honestly one of the best, truly evil characters I’d read in a long time!
  • How could Murtry and Amos ever catch up to Holden in a timely manner with the Captain travel crazy fast on the alien transport system?
  • Clarissa was mentioned once in this book! I wanted something to be said regarding what her fate was back on earth.



  1. “Lingering skepticism” is about where I am at with this series as well. The books have been a bit of roller coaster thus far, with one or two being really good and the next being a let down by comparison. That said I have read through Book Seven and at this point figure I’m in too deep to just walk away now. I also enjoyed this one overall, despite having some problems with it. As a word of encouragement, I really liked the next book in line!

    Some quick extra thoughts (perhaps minor spoiler territory for this book only):

    – I liked Elvi but felt like a lot of her potential was squandered by spending too much time with her crush on Holden. I don’t feel like the authors did her justice. Looking back at my review, I also had a (perhaps related) issue with her “problem,” though I honestly don’t recall what i that was.

    – I wouldn’t trust Holden to order me coffee. Not a fan of his even at this point in the series and feel like this book suffered from having too much POV from him. I would have preferred a more insightful character to have viewed these events (assuming, of course, the author had a larger point to make with them).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad the series is growing on you – point taken on overall arcs being perhaps predictable, but the twists and turns through the middle always keep me hooked 🙂

    Book five is all drama; i look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

    Liked by 1 person

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