Nemesis Games – How it Keeps Readers Engaged from Start to Finish

The crew of the Rocinante have been on the frontline of all the battles and political turmoil throughout The Expanse series. At the moment, the galactic civilization is in relative peace despite small conflicts in a few places. The fifth book in the series, Nemesis Games, continues the story by giving each of the crew a bit more individual approach. Since the Rocinante sustains quite a lot of damage and becomes incapacitated for repairs, all four members of the crew go on separate ways to take care of unfinished personal businesses.

Nemesis Games

Holden, Naomi, Alex, and Amos finally have some downtime on their hands after years of misadventures in their galactic quest to find peace and good living. All four of them have bonded like a real family throughout their journey together; their love and loyalty for each other have always played a key factor in every mission. Because the book focuses on the individual crew members, it tells the stories from their own POV. Holden and Naomi have been viewpoint characters in the previous books, but this time Amos and Alex have their own dedicated pages as well.

It makes little sense to do it when the crew are close together on the same ship, so the best way to deliver such a narration style is to have them split up, albeit temporarily. “Nemesis Games” gives readers a deeper insight into each crew member’s off-duty matters beyond the Rocinante. The term “off-duty” might not be entirely accurate here because once again a major threat has arrived, and it takes a genuine team effort to neutralize the dangers.

  • Captain James Holden doesn’t actually go far from the Rocinante. He is staying at Tycho Station while the Rocinante receives the much-needed repairs and maintenance. According to the station’s chief engineer, it might take six months before the ship is fully functional.
  • Pilot Alex has the urge to settle some issues with his ex-wife on Mars. Until this point in the story, the only thing clear about Alex’s personal life is that he used to be a married man prior to becoming a pilot on an ice freighter.
  • Mechanic Amos receives news from Earth that someone from her past has died. Now that the Rocinante is taking a break at the repair station, he makes the time to verify everything.
  • XO Naomi gets a video call from someone on Ceres. She tells the captain it is a personal business, and that she needs to go by herself. For the first time in years, Holden is all alone.

The protomolecule along with the aliens are hardly the main issues in the book. Even without them, humans have the potential to ruin their own civilization, perhaps more than the aliens do. Although Bobbie Draper and Avasarala are back as secondary characters in Nemesis Games, they still contribute much to the storyline.

Rocinante gets to Tycho Station about a year after a peculiar incident at Earth/Mars shipyards on Callisto. A young Belter named Filip led a small team in an infiltration attack on the shipyards to steal stealth technology from the Martian military force. There were casualties on their side, but they gained the tech and escaped anyway largely unscathed. The incident doesn’t seem to get all the attention it deserves.

Amos is taken into custody by Avasarala just as soon as he enters New York under the suspicion that he is there on an assassination mission. She is wrong because Amos is in the city to pay his last respects to his late wife, Lydia. The authority concedes, and Amos is free to go. After examining Lydia’s obituary, he plans to meet with Charles, her (now) ex-husband and the last person to see her alive. Nothing particularly important comes up but in the end, Amos has permission from Avasarala to meet with Clarissa Mao before leaving Earth.

Alex makes his way to Mars and meets his wife Talissa. The moment doesn’t end well for them, and Talissa tells him to leave. Instead of rushing back to Tycho, Alex plans to have another meeting with Bobbie Draper. Since he is officially off duty for the time being, Bobbie asks him to help investigate and track military equipment traded in a black market. She has been looking into the matter on behalf of Avasarala for a while now. The next thing they know, a group of men ambushes them, leaving both Alex and Bobbie injured but strong enough to reach the hospital in time.

After landing on Ceres, Naomi encounters a Belter named Cyn, who immediately takes her to see Filip. It turns out that Filip actually is a son of her and Marco Inaros. The story of Naomi and her family connects to the beginning of the OPA rebellion. Long ago, Marco took advantage of a program Naomi had written to sabotage a nuclear reactor on a civilian ship called Augustin Gamarra. Hundreds of people died as a result. Naomi left him afterwards.

Holden himself doesn’t enjoy his free time for long. Monica Stuart, a journalist who is on Tycho, calls him about an unsolved mystery. During the following meeting, she shows Holden a video of a freighter that disappeared into a wormhole. Monica also disappears without a trace, but Holden discovers evidence that points to a kidnapping.

All those individual stories will finally intertwine when undetected asteroids hit many regions on Earth including North Africa, North Atlantic, and North America, killing millions in their wake. The asteroids curiously evaded detection until the last second before impact, as if cloaked by some sort of stealth coating. It doesn’t take long for everyone to wonder if the invisible asteroids connect to the stolen Martian stealth technology.

We think Nemesis Games is a refreshing entry to an already well-known series. For the first time, all four crew members of the Rocinante have their own viewpoints; the backstories are finally here. The book also delivers quite a serious plot punch – and a smart one at that – that changes the direction of the story from a bunch of separate events into an intertwining/collaborative journey to restore order in the solar system.

Have you read Nemesis Games? Do you like the all-new villain that emerges from Naomi’s history? We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you might want to know:

Other books to complement the novel:

Although Nemesis Games is the fifth book in The Expanse series, most of the stories are self-contained. You don’t actually need to read the previous books to follow the plot well. However, there are always some parts of the storyline that connect the entire series together, so it is best to read the preceding titles (Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War, Abaddon’s Gate, and Cibola Burn). Outside the main series, take a look at “The Churn,” a 75-page novella also written by James S. A. Corey.

Is there a screen adaptation of the book?

The stories told in Nemesis Games are the basis of the fifth season of The Expanse TV series (Amazon Prime), with some changes in various parts.

Why does it feel like The Expanse series is taking a break with Nemesis Games?

It might be true to some extent because the book is the middle chapter of an ongoing series. Everything depicted in the book should feel like a setup of what is coming, but this does not take away the fact that the book is emotionally engaging from start to finish.

Check out other articles by month: