... lightning fast, relentless, and merciless, even when there is nothing to be gained except the destruction of enemies ... Those individual storylines are quite compelling, not only for themselves but as part of the fractally unfolding portrait of this future, this world, this cultural matrix. In fact, I was so taken by following the agendas of various cast members (established and new) that I didn’t ask, 'What is the main plot here?' for quite a while – perhaps a third of the way through ... includes a series of striking set-piece sequences, not all of which involve bloodshed ... The spirits that I feel hovering over this expansive, inventive, immersive triptych are those of Heinlein, Alfred Bester, and Frank Herbert, with perhaps just a dash of Theodore Sturgeon and Samuel R. Delany. With godparents like that, how could the child not be wild and wonderful and just a bit scary?
Moon Rising shouldn’t and really can’t be read as a stand-alone novel ... Heroes will be revealed, villains will receive their punishments, while many others, if left alive, will simply be broken by this corporate-cum-imperial hostile takeover. As such, the tone of this final volume is notably different from the earlier books in the series, which is reflected by its comparably somber opening ... It’s a novel of the aftermath, an accounting for the deaths and destruction that took place in the earlier two installments. Perhaps its key ethical question centers on the conflict between political-financial calculation and mourning as the responsibility for such decisions ... McDonald keeps up the pace, but this is a lot to resolve (and it’s not even close to everything) ... But resolution is harder than destruction, and in this sense, the closing of the Luna trilogy faced a rather similar problem to the closing of that series to which it was so often compared: HBO’s Game of Thrones. How do you positively conclude such a narrative if what you have is a thoroughly anti-utopian dystopia? ... Luna’s overarching narrative has always dallied with notions of fate and the predicted importance of Ariel Corta’s destiny for the Moon. In a rather original twist, however, it replaces such fantastical notions of fate and necromancy with financial fiscalmancy and AI quantum computing prediction analytics. In one sense, finance likes to mask itself as fate, producing the future as the inevitable outcome of its risk-leveraging calculations ... One of the more provocative ideas developed in the novel is the idea of a permanent financial regime and the end of such 'natural' boom and bust cycles ... In short, how do we salvage a sense of the future from a present based on the immiserating of the many at the hands of the few? How Luna Rising resolves these questions is ultimately less important than the fact that it is asking them.
There’s just one major problem with Luna: Moon Rising: it doesn’t feel like a conclusion. It feels, in fact, a lot more like a prologue, like the end of an opening act of some much larger arc. For every thread that’s brought to some kind of conclusion, another one spreads its wings ... perhaps I’d be better about tracking who is which, and who’s aligned to what purposes, if I had succeeded in making myself care about the characters and their purposes with more than a vague creeping horror at how much worse things can get for them, or how many more lives will be ruined by the choices of the adult characters ... McDonald’s worldbuilding is sharp and glittering .... It’s not that I don’t admire a lot of what McDonald’s doing here...But in the end, Luna: Moon Rising leaves me cold and unsatisfied, and doesn’t leave me feeling like the story has come to a resolution ... Pity it’s not a longer series. It’d make for a great middle book.
McDonald, to his credit, dials back on the sexual violence, but he still knows how to write a kinky, if cringe-worthy, sex scene ... Yet, by only focussing on the back-stabbing, revenge plots, and gob-smacking twists it’s easy to look past how these books – and especially Luna: Moon Rising – chart out a possible future for our species ... the cinematic set-pieces, the reversals in fortune, and the awful sex are a large part of what makes the Luna: New Moon trilogy so much fun to read, and why I will miss it now it has come to an end. Ultimately, though, these entertaining, and intelligent novels, capped off by the very satisfying Luna: Moon Rising, have been about establishing a society, a community, a family that looks to the future, that lives and prospers in an environment that must always be treated with respect.
Backgrounds of the five families tie traditions back to various Earth cultures, with clear evolution to a unique Lunar environment. New readers can jump straight in without reading the previous books in the series.
The political intrigue never feels too abstract or removed from 21st-century Earth. Readers will appreciate the care McDonald takes with both worldbuilding and characterization, and will enjoy little touches such as giving an assassin the job title of Corporate Conflict Resolution Officer. Newcomers will have difficulty mastering the intricacies of the setting and story, as McDonald doesn’t provide even a short recap or cast of characters; however, fans of the prior books will find this wrap-up rewarding.