It’s probably one of the best Sci-Fi books that are all about ideas and premises, don’t go expecting really deep characters or a satisfying story. But at the same time, we have to realize that judging an old book by today’s standards is not good for anyone. On the other note, I feel like most younger readers will find the constant change of quick dialogue and dry exposition to be less attractive than some newer stories.
Solaris Book Review – Story 4/5:
As I said, stories, especially books, can be broken down into 3 categories:
1. Stories about characters, or character pieces – it’s a type of book where the whole CORE of it is getting to know and seeing how characters change or evolve. These stories might take a place in a very similar setting and just concentrate on the inner fights of our main characters.
2. Books that want to tell a story – these types of books usually have a beginning and an end mapped out before starting. Think about Lord of The Rings, it’s not really about character growth, sure there is that, but the CORE of the story is the whole journey to destroy the ring.
3. Ideas or premise base – as the name suggests these stories are all about the question “What if?”. They explore philosophy, science, religions – giving us complex ideas that you can sometimes just sit and think about. But these books are light on characters or grand plots – the CORE here are the crazy ideas.
This book is all about ideas, so everything else is kind of secondary, or shove to the side. As for ideas, these are great, it makes you look at how we understand aliens, and most importantly, why are we searching for extraterrestrial life in space.
But I’m gonna warn you here, this book is made of 3 parts – One part of the story is usually very fast character dialogue, where people just repeat the things you know or go back and forth without really any interesting things to say. Second is the interaction between the characters and the station itself, it’s probably the most balanced part of the book that is interesting to read. The third thing is a whole history class about this Solaris planet, scientists that worked on it, and it is as dry as you imagine it to be.
Honestly for most of the book I was just confused, not because I couldn’t understand What was happening, no I just didn’t get where the story was going, is it trying to say something or just be interesting. I love this book, but at the same time, it feels like a draft that needs to be fixed here and there.
Recommend for the Story? – YES!
Solaris Book Review – Characters 3/5:
The thing about Solaris is that while you have just a few characters you follow the whole story, you don’t really get to know them. It’s more just being IN the situation. Sure, you understand the basics but with the way the story was building in the beginning I thought it was going to explore these secondary characters a bit more in-depth.
Our main character is well defined, and in the middle of the book, I really found him an interesting piece to read about. The drama and inner struggle felt real and honest, but both the beginning and the end kind of depict him as a very standard and boring person. I don’t know why but I could never really get the hang of what his character is really like, even though I liked the depiction overall.
I wanted to know more about these side characters and their visitors, maybe even working together to change one another’s minds and to heal mental scars, something, but it just feels like these are some random NPC in a quest you’re doing… And I don’t want to sound too negative, I’m being harsh because I still believe this is a really worthy book of your time.
Recommend for the Characters? – YES!
Solaris Book Review – Writing style 3/5:
I would call this writing style a rollercoaster. I don’t want to sit here judging an old book by today’s standards, but just the weird flow makes it a bit hard to finish. The problem for me was the jumps between super fast dialogue pages and long paragraphs explaining the history of this planet.
Look, I don’t know how used this thing is in other books, but having a whole chapter when our character is reading a book within a book is just freaking messy. The paragraphs are long, filled with fictional names, creature descriptions that never play a role in the story, and it’s setting out these made-up philosophies but never really connecting them with the main story.
It felt like Lem wanted to write a history of this planet and a makeup science, but at the same time wanted to craft a character-based drama. And it just doesn’t click, at any time when you’re getting really invested in the characters, the history of the planet comes up, and every time you get into that, the character drama kicks back again, so you’re always just feeling out of synch.
Recommend for the Writing style? – NO!
Goodreads // R.R Martin Space Opera