This post includes reviews of books in the Bobiverse series:
- We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (#1)
- For We Are Many (#2)
- All These Worlds (#3)
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Book 1)
I remember adding this book to my “want to read” list years ago but never got around to checking it out. However, I recently took a road trip with the spouse, and he asked that we listen to an audiobook recommended to him by a coworker. Thus, we entered the Bobiverse. The cover description is a bit misleading, as it only covers the events of about the first third of the story. As events progressed further, I found myself much more invested in the characters and events after that breakpoint, as the story’s premise kicks into high gear. The incarnations of Bob are easy to follow with a change of name and their slight personality differences. The issues of relativity mean that for the last sections of the book, we were essentially following multiple storylines that don’t intertwine as much as I might have preferred. As in the case of any plot lines, I found myself more invested in some than others, but I was never bored.
Because I read so fast, I tend not to be attracted to audiobooks. The narrator’s work here complements the storytelling method in that it felt much closer to an audio drama than a recitation of a narrative. Thus, I’m interested in continuing the story, but I’m content to wait until our next road trip (already planned about 6 weeks from now) rather than rush straight for the ebook.
For all my basic enjoyment, certain story elements felt slightly derivative of the style that sets Andy Weir’s The Martian and Project Hail Mary apart from most science-fiction adventure books. Taylor has put his spin on things, but I didn’t quite feel the same level of emotional impact. In addition, many of the secondary characters are stereotypical enough that I even commented as we listened that I would be so much more interested in what was going on if a certain character had been portrayed as female rather than male.
That being said, this was an excellent road trip companion that featured plenty of humorous moments and just enough depth to please any science-fiction fan. I look forward to continuing many of the threads set up in this series debut.
For We Are Many (Book 2)
Middle trilogy books often have a hard road to balance maintaining tension and interest in a story that won’t be entirely resolved at the end. Taylor manages this by intertwining multiple storylines as Bob continues to clone and disperse across the galaxy. Ultimately, each of those storylines (with one exception) was intriguing enough to keep my attention as an individual unit. However, the way they are broken up makes them feel more like short stories broken up at random points when they don’t need to be. The lack of chronology (due to the time dilation resulting from near FTL travel) also makes tracking between the story threads difficult.
However, the differences between what each of these “stories” covers kept my attention. The various versions of Bob are easy to distinguish in how they reveal separate facets of personality while keeping true to their source material. Ultimately, I found that Original Bob was my least favorite compared to his later incarnations. He goes off the deep end in his role as “sky god” and interest in the Deltan people. With so many other issues plaguing humanity and their corner of the universe, Bill develops as the actual leader of the Bobiverse. He is the one who focuses on creating a true community within their selves along with solving problems that affect their diaspora and what remains of the human race.
Issues of what makes a person and the potential for immortality are touched on but do not weigh down what is overall a fascinating science fiction adventure. Despite my quibbles about story structure, this book continued to be an excellent audio companion for another road trip adventure.
All These Worlds (Book 3)
I won’t lie – though the spouse and I immediately downloaded the final book in this trilogy to finish during a road trip because we couldn’t wait to hear how everything ended, we both groaned every time a chapter with Bob rolled around. I even joked at one point that even the author had to be bored with Bob at this point when the goings-on in the rest of the galaxy were so much more interesting.
We were always more than happy to get back to the intricacies of colonial politics, scientific developments, and the growing menace of The Others. Bill and Riker were our favorite clones by far in their respective leadership roles, but we also had a soft spot for Howard and his nontraditional love affair with Bridget. Taylor continued to sweep us away in the drama of multiple storylines focused on the survival of multiple sentient races (including humanity) and a seemingly overwhelming threat. Events culminate in a handful of epic space battles that featured imaginable near-future technology. I thought I’d predicted a pivotal climactic moment; I was close, but Taylor blew me away with the actual result of a delightful buildup that hooked me across less interesting chapters. (Sorry, Bob.)
Overall, this trilogy is a fantastic way to spend long hours in the car for any science fiction fans. The narrator elevates the storytelling to audio drama levels without employing unnecessary gimmicks. If the future of multiple sentient races had to be in the “hands” of a conscious computer collective, I could definitely think of worse options than the Bobiverse.