The below is my flash review of the science fiction novel The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu. This book serves as a sequel to The Three-body Problem, so I strongly suggest reading that first.
The first half of the book creeps along, letting go of none of its secrets. But as the long passages of time race past, the world becomes fascinating, as it veers into true science fiction. The philosophical debates at the end of the book are chilling and excellently conceived. The plot veers towards bleak acceptance of humanity’s fate and then does a slight u-turn.
Liu Ji is the main protagonist, but he is only centred on at certain times. Other side characters mostly come to terrible ends, but each end is wholly believable and human. In that respect, the characterisation is excellent; however, it means that it becomes hard to cling to any people and deeply know their history.
As with the first in the series, The Dark Forest excels at its worldbuilding and soft sci-fi. The core concept of invasion remains strong, as does humanity’s struggles to overcome its own weakness as well as the alien threat. The narrative veers towards bleak, but never unnecessarily so. Top notch.
A great sequel to The Three-body Problem. It carves its own continuation of the story and the second half ratchets up the pace and drama with expert ease. The imagination of the computer simulated world of the first book is sadly lost, but the more space-expanding war is more than an adequate replacement.