The first thing you have to know before starting this book is that this is a completely different book from its predecessor, The Three-Body Problem. Although the plot built upon what happened in TTBP and a few characters made an appearance here, other than Da Shi and Ding Yi, the other characters were only mentioned or appeared briefly as cameo appearances. Looking at most reader’s opinion on the trilogy, the majority of readers who loved TTBP disliked this book because of how different it was, and vice versa. As someone who’s disappointed with TTBP—although I still think it’s a good novel—I have to agree with this statement because The Dark Forest is in my opinion, a better book, by far.
Where the first book revolved around the Trisolaris (name of the alien) existence and background, the plot mostly centered on the preparation for the alien invasion that’s due in 400 years. The Trisolaris is able to spy literally every action and conversation on Earth, the only thing they can’t spy on is human’s thoughts. With that in mind, humanity has decided to launch a counterattack by creating a Wallfacer project, which will gather four chosen individuals with a high intellect to make a strategy for the upcoming Doomsday battle with the Trisolaris. The scope of the story is also much bigger than TTBP; with a lot of deception, stealth, planning, and less physics/scientific calculation talks, combined with space voyage and interesting sci-fi concepts, all of these made The Dark Forest superior in all ways possible in comparison to its predecessor.
The Dark Forest lived up to its name not only for the concept—which is the Fermi’s paradox—but also for its theme on darkness, escapism, and despair. This book is not a happy or a comfort read; I know some people will hate this book for how realistic, pessimistic, and depressing the philosophical discussions can be. However, it’s not all darkness, there’s always a flicker of hope and all these philosophical discussions are something that I thoroughly enjoyed.
“Time is the one thing that can’t be stopped. Like a sharp blade, it silently cuts through hard and soft, constantly advancing. Nothing is capable of jolting it even the slightest bit, but it changes everything.”
The major problem I had with TTBP was its weak characterizations, this problem has completely vanished here. Luo Ji, the main character in this book, is a very intriguing character with great characterizations; and his friendship with Da Shi is a true source of light within this bleak setting, for both the reader and the plot. Also, as far as translations by Joel Martinsen goes, I really have no problem at all with it. It obviously felt different from what Ken Liu’s did but I will never judge a translation’s prose unless I already read and understand the original language it was presented with. As long that I understand what the story is trying to tell and the writing flows well, I’ll say that the translator did a great job.
If you’re looking for Sci-Fi novels that featured tons of action scenes, you probably should look for other series to read. Within two books so far, there’s a grand total of one heavy action sequence—which is here in this book—and it goes on for only 20 pages. However, I can tell you this; to do a bit of comparison to other Sci-Fi series I loved, this 20 pages action sequence is better than all the heavy action scenes Pierce Brown wrote up to Morning Star. it’s just very well-written as far as action scenes are concerned. The buildup towards it was well written, the execution itself was incredible and vivid; by the end of it, it made my jaw drop and made me use the highly popular reader’s quote “what the fuck did I just read?”
“If I destroy you, what business is it of yours?”
I honestly have no idea how Cixin Liu will top this one with the last book, Death’s End, especially when the conclusion of this book already felt like the satisfying ending to the series. However, if Death’s End turns out to be better than this already excellent sequel, Remembrance of Earth’s Past will no doubt be included in my lonely list of favorite series of all time.