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Wow. As a passionate fan of the series, this Expanse novella didn't disappoint. Unlike THE CHURN or GODS of RISK (also recommended for fans of the series), STRANGE DOGS does not fill in backstory for one of the 'all stars' in cast of the Expanse. But it does something that I found very exciting; it takes you to Laconia.
The name of that planet ought to set off alarm bells for anyone familiar with the latter books of the Expanse. Especially as the release of book 7, Persepolis Rising, is right around the corner, I was grateful for this sneak peak at the 'home base' of what has been established as a major hub for the series' new shadow antagonist -Admiral Winston Duarte. Who makes a brief but poignant appearance in Strange Dogs, establishing him as a thoughtfully dimensional 'villain'.
Overall, Strange Dogs is not military in tone though. The story is told from the perspective of a young girl who has never known a home other than Laconia. Imagine following a day in the life of Basia's daughter, from Cibola Burn (book 4), and you start to get the picture. Like Ilus, Laconia is teeming with alien life. And the mysterious machinations of the protomolecule abound. Cara, through whom we experience Laconia, is innocent. And that innocence leads to a truly remarkable confrontation with the extant life forms of Laconia. The awe and terror evoked by that communion with the unknown is quintessential Expanse magic.
If there is anything to complain about here, it's that the novella's arc is somewhat predictable. But sometimes knowing roughly where a strange journey is going to land makes that descent to a final destination all the more intense. Do not expect big answers to the biggest questions asked by The Expanse, but rather anticipate more questions that ought to raise the hair on your neck. I feel more primed than ever for book 7!
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Fans of the mainline Expanse books know the novellas fill in interesting aspects of the story. This one is a different style. While the content fits the Expanse universe the story is essentially a YA plot. It's a bit dark -- call it PG-13 for violence, adult language, and adult themes. We'll see how (if) it fits in the big picture when the next Expanse novel comes out later this year.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful