Saren has been stopped. The Collector base has been destroyed. Yet the Reapers still came. Earth is now under attack by giant sentient alien machines, and now it is up to Commander Shepard to gather the galactic community for the thrilling fight for the galaxy’s survival. But what about the stories that happen in between? This is where the Mass Effect books and comic mini-series come in. Much can happen in the two years between the stories of the main Mass Effect games, so the printed media serve as the interim plot lines outside of Commander Shepard’s heroic efforts to save an unsuspecting galaxy.
Before I start, I would like to say that this is the first time I’ve reviewed a book. Ok, then, now Read more!
Mass Effect: Retribution is one of the books that fill in between Mass Effect 2 and 3, and sequel to Mass Effect: Ascension (book between ME1 and 2). It was written by Drew Karpyshyn, lead writer of the main Mass Effect games, writer of most of the Mass Effect books, a few Star Wars stories, and is a New York Times Bestselling author (according to the cover).
The story happens mainly in two different third-person perspectives. The first is Paul Grayson, the former operative of the pro-human organization Cerberus, who is on the run since rescuing his daughter back in ME: Ascension. The other is Kahlee Sanders, project director of the Alliance Ascension program, and also involved in the events of Ascension. Grayson has been on the run for a while, hiding among the outlaws of Omega. He works under Aria T’Loak, using his Cerberus skills and his team to straighten out gangs on Omega who fail to pay T’Loak proper “tribute”. After a red sand run, Grayson was found by Cerberus and abducted. The Illusive Man wants Grayson to be a test subject of Reaper technology to better understand the large sentient alien machines from deep space. Not much later, Kaylee Sanders receives an urgent message from Grayson, just before he was abducted. The message also contained Grayson’s intel against Cerberus. She takes the message and data to Alliance Admiral David Anderson, and together they embark on a rescue mission to find and save Grayson from the experiments.
Coming from the man who is the head of the writing team of the Mass Effect games, Retribution gives the quintessential Mass Effect feel. There was great effort in maintaining the Mass Effect details; the empty void of space, Omega’s lawless society, the ever-persistent issue of space politics, xenophobia, the Illusive Man’s quest to ensure the survival of the human race against the Reapers, and the list goes on. The book is very consistent with the atmosphere established in Mass Effect 2. The plot line does a pretty good job of gradually building tension. For the most part, Retribution hooks the reader and remains interesting. Unlike the Mass Effect games, there is no heart-stopping plot twist, no supreme battles, or any large scale racial intergalactic meeting. Retribution tells a much smaller yet very significant story that happened in the years between Commander Shepard’s missions. You can also expect some references from Retribution in the upcoming Mass Effect 3.
There were some small problems I noticed. The plot line does a good job of keeping the flow going, but there were times when it can get sluggish; this is notable in the first couple chapters. The book also makes the assumption that you are familiar with the Mass Effect universe. I don’t recall a detailed description of the Citadel, Omega, or the Turians when the book first encountered them. As this sits in between two main Mass Effect plotlines and is a sequel to another book, it is understandable. But if you are looking for a good random sci-fi story to read, Retribution is not the best.
So there you have it. For those who are itching for the next big story in the Mass Effect universe but can’t wait for Mass Effect 3, Mass Effect: Retribution should help ease your need for events in the immersive universe. Written by the lead writer of Mass Effect and providing a good dose of suspense, Retribution makes for a solid read.
Final Score: 8.5/10