I binged this book and read it over a period of 3 days; it came out to about 3 hours of reading every day. However, every moment was worth it. I think Death’s End is one of the best science-fiction books I’ve ever read. Maybe one of the best books I’ve ever read, period.
I think the brilliance of Death’s End lies in multiple dimensions (heh). First, there’s the complexity of several parallel storylines happening at once, yet all interconnected by the theme of humanity. No matter where (or when) the story takes place, the eternal struggle for mankind to keep its essence never leaves. In a way, that’s why Cheng Xin is the perfect character to portray this; the decisions that she makes are human and borne of love, though eventually they lead to the utter destruction of humanity. Thomas Wade is a great foil for actions, paralleling her actions through cold rationality and the need of what needs to be done.
The scope of the book in general is massive as well, literally. The end grapples with the literal fate of the universe, and the technologies that are flung at the reader during the last quarter of the book are delightful. Explanations of potential lightspeed technology, the “trails” left by curvature propulsion, and the mini-universes are awesome. In particular, the explanation of the current state of the universe was jarring. An Edenic era of 10 dimensions and infinite light speed, ruined by the wars of curvature propulsion? Bruh, amazing.
A huge part of the story was just…melancholy. Moments like when Tianming’s brain is sent out forever, or when the solar system folds into 2 dimensions, or when Cheng Xin is literally miles away from reuniting with Tianming but ends up getting sucked into a black domain. That’s sad. I think the last moments were really written wonderfully, and I can’t even begin to describe how sad I felt during large chunks of the story. It’s sad spending almost 3 books rooting for Earth to win, only to realize that the end was inevitable. It seems real, though.
The one regret I had when reading was the relationship between Tianming and Cheng Xin–it’s not established very well. Although I eventually felt the pain of loss, I think establishing that key connection would have made the end devastatingly brutal.
I can’t wait to reread this series sometime in the future and relive the magic (and the destruction) all over again. Netflix, please make a series for this.