While I loved the first novel in the series, it did have its slow bits. This, though, exceeded the first in every way. I couldn't put it down - it's fast paced yet suspenseful. I already loved the setting, and this book gives a lot more development to the inner planets. All the new major characters are great, but Jefferson Mays's performance of Avasarala blew me away - I found myself looking forward to her generally slower-moving chapters just for his performance of the foul-mouthed Indian grandmother/diplomat.
If you're insisting on treating it with more scrutiny than you would a thriller in any other genre, you'll notice a few contrivances - even noticing them, though, these aren't enough to have detracted from my enjoyment of the novel.
5 stars from me, and I'm eagerly awaiting the conclusion (though I'd be happy to see the series, or at least the setting, outlast a trilogy).
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