In the midst of the bloody purges of intellectuals in the Cultural Revolution, a teenager's family is destroyed in front of her eyes by Red Guards. These gripping events set a brilliant premise to The Three-Body Problem. Ye Wenjie, the university student who is mentally crushed by witnessing these events, is shipped off to a remote location near a mysterious radio telescope for hard labour. With her growing hatred of entire mankind, she gets a chance to set in motion events that would put the entire planet at risk of annihilation by an alien force in the present day.
Cixin Liu is supposedly a famous science fiction author in China and this book translated by Ken Liu to English is the first from Cixin's Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy. This is hard science fiction and Cixin Liu is pretty damn good at that. The physics and history at the radio telescope in the past and at an alien planetary system in the present are all in extreme detail and very plausible. Wenjie's flashback to the Cultural Revolution is just beautiful writing and is actually a pretty good insight to what was happening on the ground during that dark phase of Chinese history. It in the present however that the novel runs into hiccups. Some of the characters, especially Shi Qiang the detective, are not well suited to the grim narrative. I did not like the Three-Body Problem virtual reality game, which occupies a large part of the book. I get that the author uses the game to make the reader understand the history and motives of the alien system, but it is way too long and not that good. The third act of the book is tense, but waters down to a Dan Brown-like chase sequence. Though the vision in this novel is galactic and I had a great time, I do not think I will be picking up the rest of the trilogy due to these reasons.