But here’s the thing: this is where the series and the books really diverge and go down different plot lines. In fact, I feel that the second season of Altered Carbon addresses more elements from the third book, so this review will focus only on the second book of the series, Broken Angels.
Is Broken Angels a worthy addition to the Altered Carbon franchise? Well, that’s a valid debate! Read on to find out why!
Book Summary (No Spoilers)
While fighting in a planetary civil war, Takeshi Kovacs encounters privateers who have stumbled upon a hidden alien artifact.
He goes AWOL to help them recruit and lead a team of archeologues to investigate and recover this artifact, which turns out to be much more than anyone expected.
This book has a much different feel than the first Takeshi Kovacs novel. Instead of a gritty, noir murder mystery, Kovacs finds himself in a techno-thriller of ancient archeology.
It’s like going from Blade Runner to Indiana Jones.
The world-building of Altered Carbon is still solid. The characters have this ambivalent attitude toward ‘organic damage,’ which is the term used for the destruction of their bodies. Since they have been promised new, upgraded ‘sleeves’ (or human bodies), they are willing to venture into radioactive, contaminated sites.
Even though there’s no permanent risk, Morgan makes the gradual radiation sickness truly painful to observe. The fight scenes in this book play out like combat between sickly, decrepit old geezers with osteoporosis.
This is also our first real glimpse into the alien civilization that gave us the digital stack technology and helped us discover new worlds. The exposition in this book is a fascinating exploration into an alien civilization.
If you were expecting a dark cyberpunk sequel to Altered Carbon, you might be a little disappointed. Broken Angels is light on the gritty dystopian elements, and focuses more on the fascination of the unknown.
There’s no class divide driving the conflict, like we saw in the first book. The Quellist philosophy and frequent quotes are still well-thought-out and expressive, but don’t seem to be quite as relevant as they were in the first book/season.
The Recommendation - 4/5 Stars
Broken Angels is a thrilling sci-fi adventure with some futuristic war and alien archeological exploration thrown in. It’s definitely worth a read.
I only deducted a star because compared to the other books in the series, it doesn’t quite fit thematically. We lost the class warfare, we lost the philosophy, we lost the consequences of immortality that really made the first book stand apart.
But not to fear: the third book, Woken Furies, is coming up next!
Have you watched Altered Carbon? Or read these books? Let us know what you thought in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to see our upcoming review of the next volume in the series!