52 Book Challenge: The Rifters Tetralogy by Peter Watts

17 Mar


{Proceed with caution, heavy spoilers all up in this bitch}

I did the 52 Book Challenge last year without expecting much to come out of it. I had just gotten a Kindle and wanted to see if it would really speed up my reading. Well, I went from 10 books in 2012 to 137 in 2013! My reading was a bit all over the place, so this year I am setting goals. One of them is to go through some series that I have been putting off due to length, and the very first books I read back in January was the Rifters tetraology by Peter Watts, which have been recommended to me more times than I can count.

Peter Watts does dark, hard scifi. Starfish is the first of the four books, and my favorite among them. Probably because it is the most enclosed: while the other three open up in scope, Starfish is claustrophobic. It takes part a part the ocean floor called the Rift with a handful of people, all of whom are… well, not quite sane. It is about the human psyche as much as it is about the science, though Watts is a marine biologist so much of the horrors down there are eerily plausible. And the scariest part is based entirely on fact: trauma addiction, the theory that the rush of chemicals pumped into your brain after a traumatic event can actually keep you in a cycle of abuse, because some part of your body wants that feeling. All of the Rifters are addicts, and it’s brilliantly terrifying.

Lenie, the main character of all four books, is a broken person and not much of a heroine at all. She is not a good person, nor does she try to be. In every way we really should dislike Lenie, but… something about her is gripping. She is utterly broken and unapologetic about it. This is the type of unique female character I can get behind in a heartbeat.

Starfish ends with a literal bang and while I probably should have been excited that we would get some scenes on solid ground, I was actually quite sad that the other books wouldn’t be entirely on the ocean floor. There were hints throughout the entire book that a bigger plot was unfolding, but I would have been happy to read 4 books in a row of in-fighting among the Rifters. Thankfully Peter Watts has a book of short stories I have yet to read, and one of them takes place down on the Rift!


Maelstrom takes place out of the deep ocean, a change I was a bit unsure about. I think it starts out on shaky legs but finds its footing after a few chapters. And it starts out right after a mini-apocalypse which is pretty much awesome (if you love apocalypses as much as I do). At least there are no more giant anglerfish: seriously, big versions of those guys are my worst nightmare. Knowing they are teeny tiny helps me sleep at night.

In Maelstrom we see a lot of what used to be the internet, which is one of the hardest concepts to grip in this series. Remember when I said they were hard scifi? I wasn’t messing around. The internet has become some kind of wild jungle, viruses taking on a kind of cyber-physical form and running rampant, attacking and literally eating data. It is nigh impossible to imagine but Watts paints a vivid picture. That, along with Lenie being an apocalypse maiden trying to infect all of North America with an aggressive primordial ancestor-being that wants to take over the earth sold me on the whole “we’re no longer in the ocean” thing pretty fast.

Yes, the main character is literally trying to destroy all life on earth. But she has some pretty good reasons, like the Big Bad Corporation implanting false memories of abuse to make her suitable for life on the ocean floor. The trauma addiction? That is what made her thrive there. So they took scientists and messed the Rifters up, creating perfect ocean floor workers. I’d probably destroy the world if I found out someone did that to me too.


Behemoth, the final book, is actually two books: or, at least, it was originally published that way. The first, B-Max, was the hardest one for me to read and probably my least favorite of the four. There was a large focus on Achilles, a character who was minor in Starfish and Maelstrom, and he is… shall we say… a very bad person. You knew at the end of Maelstrom that he was probably going to kill and torture one of his coworkers, but there is an agonizingly long lead-up to finding out what happened to her in this book. The funny thing is, it is not at all explicit. They are done in little chunks detailing his life but it gives you more and more hints that what happened to her is going to be very, very bad. And… you never find out what it was. But another girl is tortured by Achilles–not that explicitly, though enough to leave me squirming unpleasantly.

It was actually brilliantly done, well crafted and horrifying without being too gory, exploitative or over the top. So really, I only disliked it because it made me uncomfortable–which, obviously, is exactly what Watts was going for. Also there was a very depressing scene with a cat, and I really love cats. So there’s that.

We get more of the ocean in B-Max, though with a changed dynamic I didn’t find up to par with Starfish. Which I think is really why it is my least favorite–the other three are done in brand new territory, while B-Max feels a bit redundant.

Seppuku, the final volume, finishes with a bang. Lots of Lenie, fire, explosions, jumping out of helicopters, rabid mutant dogs, everything you would expect in the finale of an apocalyptic series. In fact, I was a bit surprised at how many typical tropes were in there. Starfish was unlike anything else I have ever read, but the series ends rather predictably and with less and less focus on the human psyche as the books go on. Which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the series–I loved it, and Starfish is one of my favorites in the genre. I just wish that sense of surreal claustrophobia could have spread through the whole book, including an epic finale (which is a trick he pulls off spectacularly later on… but we’ll get to that at book 19!).

Musical Accompaniment: Sea Wolf’s Leaves In The River. I’m fairly certain “Black Dirt” is about Lenie Clark. I mean, it just fits her so perfectly…


Book 1 Starfish Lipstick Rating5 Full



Book 2 Maelstrom Lipstick Rating 4 Full



Book 3 Behemoth B-Max Lipstick Rating 3 And 1 Half



Book 4 Behemoth Seppuku Lipstick Rating 3 Full

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

90 Responses to “52 Book Challenge: The Rifters Tetralogy by Peter Watts”

  1. Orlando January 24, 2019 at 8:16 pm #

    Highly energetic post, I loved that a lot. Will there be a part 2?

  2. brazil flag gif January 24, 2019 at 9:39 pm #

    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz reply as I’m looking to construct my own blog and
    would like to know where u got this from. thank you

  3. brazil flag image January 25, 2019 at 6:08 pm #

    My brother recommended I might like this web site.

    He was entirely right. This post actually made my day.
    You can not imagine just how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  4. Emerson January 25, 2019 at 6:55 pm #

    It’s remarkable to pay a visit this site and reading the views of
    all colleagues about this paragraph, while I am also zealous of getting experience.

  5. Lavada January 25, 2019 at 11:57 pm #

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the most useful websites on the net.

    I’m going to recommend this blog!

  6. Halley January 26, 2019 at 12:39 am #

    Do you have a spam issue on this website; I also am
    a blogger, and I was wondering your situation; many of us have created some nice methods
    and we are looking to swap solutions with other folks, why not shoot me an email if

  7. Sidney January 26, 2019 at 2:38 am #

    This is true for investment advice as nicely.

  8. Meridith January 26, 2019 at 2:43 am #

    Investors do pay direct and indirect costs.

  9. Deborah January 26, 2019 at 3:26 am #

    Think about investments that offer immediate annuities.

  10. Pearl January 26, 2019 at 4:09 am #

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely feel this web site
    needs far more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the

  11. Erma January 26, 2019 at 6:21 am #

    All varieties of investments include certain dangers.

  12. Patrick January 26, 2019 at 6:53 am #

    Now it is time to pick your particular investments.

  13. Ward January 26, 2019 at 7:22 pm #

    Wow, that’s what I was looking for, what a material! present here
    at this webpage, thanks admin of this website.

  14. Grazyna January 27, 2019 at 11:34 am #

    All kinds of investments come with sure risks.

  15. Bailey January 27, 2019 at 11:42 am #

    All kinds of investments come with certain dangers.

  16. brazilian steakhouse west des moines January 27, 2019 at 10:06 pm #

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied
    on the video to make your point. You clearly know what
    youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just
    posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

  17. Floyd January 27, 2019 at 10:58 pm #

    That is true for investment recommendation as nicely.

  18. Mack January 28, 2019 at 5:20 am #

    Thanks in favor of sharing such a good idea, piece of writing is good, thats why i have read it fully

  19. George January 29, 2019 at 3:44 am #

    Monetary advisors enterprise is individuals business.

  20. brazil nuts calories January 31, 2019 at 1:08 pm #

    It’s very straightforward to find out any topic on net as compared
    to textbooks, as I found this paragraph at this website.

  21. Mazie February 4, 2019 at 3:56 pm #

    That is true for investment advice as effectively.

  22. Kathi February 6, 2019 at 9:36 pm #

    Thank you on your curiosity in Funding Advice.

  23. Go Here February 7, 2019 at 5:17 pm #

    I just want to tell you that I am new to blogging and definitely enjoyed you’re website. Probably I’m going to bookmark your site . You surely come with awesome posts. Bless you for revealing your website.

  24. Mattie February 8, 2019 at 4:27 am #

    Contemplate investments that offer rapid annuities.

  25. John Deere Diagnostic and Test Manuals February 9, 2019 at 8:45 pm #

    I’m new to your blog and i really appreciate the nice posts and great layout.;;*-”

  26. Marty February 10, 2019 at 1:36 pm #

    This is true for funding recommendation as effectively.

  27. Charlotte February 10, 2019 at 11:46 pm #

    Thanks to your curiosity in Investment Advice.

  28. Joel February 11, 2019 at 3:59 am #

    Schwab Clever Portfolios invests in Schwab ETFs.

  29. Lilly February 11, 2019 at 6:50 am #

    And that is an funding danger price taking.

  30. Michael February 12, 2019 at 1:18 am #

    That is true for investment advice as nicely.

  31. Carey February 12, 2019 at 3:40 am #

    Now it’s time to decide your specific investments.

  32. Eva February 12, 2019 at 4:38 am #

    A financial advisor is your planning partner.

  33. Shavonne February 12, 2019 at 5:05 am #

    Contemplate investments that supply immediate annuities.

  34. Marcel February 12, 2019 at 5:39 am #

    Contemplate investments that supply instant annuities.

  35. Marylin February 12, 2019 at 9:49 am #

    Now it’s time to pick your particular investments.

  36. Phillip February 13, 2019 at 12:05 am #

    Monetary advisors business is individuals enterprise.

  37. Winfred February 13, 2019 at 12:15 am #

    Schwab Intelligent Portfolios invests in Schwab ETFs.

  38. Edgardo February 13, 2019 at 9:40 am #

    Now it is time to pick your particular investments.

  39. Cherie February 15, 2019 at 12:55 am #

    All forms of investments include certain dangers.

  40. Rosina Edvalson February 16, 2019 at 4:58 am #

    I need some very creative ideas that will loosen up the atmosphere as my students are very serious. Any word games or writing games are appreciated!.

  41. Nigel February 16, 2019 at 11:21 pm #

    Investors do pay direct and indirect costs.

  42. Patrick February 17, 2019 at 3:15 am #

    And that is an funding risk value taking.

  43. Jillian February 17, 2019 at 4:20 am #

    Investors do pay direct and oblique prices.

  44. Many roadside restore providers promote towing.

  45. Lupita February 17, 2019 at 11:12 pm #

    All varieties of investments include sure dangers.

  46. Geneva February 18, 2019 at 12:22 am #

    All kinds of investments include sure dangers.

  47. Fausto February 18, 2019 at 1:13 am #

    Schwab Clever Portfolios invests in Schwab ETFs.

  48. Nelly February 19, 2019 at 12:07 am #

    And this is an investment risk worth taking.

  49. Joy February 19, 2019 at 12:44 am #

    Thanks to your curiosity in Funding Recommendation.

  50. Marisa February 19, 2019 at 3:00 am #

    Traders do pay direct and oblique costs.

  51. Carrol Dukelow February 19, 2019 at 7:45 am #

    Excellent article. I’m facing a few of these issues as well..

  52. Moshe February 19, 2019 at 8:46 am #

    Now it is time to pick your specific investments.

  53. Jordan February 19, 2019 at 9:37 am #

    Think about investments that provide immediate annuities.

  54. John Deere Repair Manuals February 19, 2019 at 10:03 am #

    Most people have overlooked this main principle. I was baffled and this post cut through the common solutions that only present lacking substance. Don’t stop publishing at this quality.

  55. Ahmed Hulvey February 20, 2019 at 4:33 pm #

    Is using a copyright material as a reference to write articles illegal?

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. 52 Book Challenge: Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds | Lipstick & Libraries - March 19, 2014

    […] There are three main characters with arcs in Revelation Space, and two of them are female. In the Rifters books, the main character was female. In the other scifi books I have on the list there is always a […]

  2. 52 Book Challenge: Blindsight by Peter Watts | Lipstick & Libraries - April 21, 2014

    […] I have been chomping at the bit to read this book. But since most people rank it higher than the Rifters series, I knew I had to read that first. I made the mistake of reading an author’s best book first […]

  3. Good Smile Company's Wo-Class Is Devistatingly Cute | Plastikitty - July 9, 2014

    […] Wo-Class. What even. She’s like some beastie from Starfish (which everyone should read and here’s why yes I am linking out my personal blog whatcha gonna do about it?!). She’s like a giant […]

  4. Google - February 7, 2019


    The data talked about within the write-up are a few of the ideal accessible.

  5. экономический словарь онлайн - February 9, 2019

    экономический словарь онлайн

    [...]Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine several unrelated data, nonetheless actually worth taking a look, whoa did one discover about Mid East has got a lot more problerms too [...]

  6. слушать песню ланфрен ланфра - February 9, 2019

    слушать песню ланфрен ланфра

    [...]The details mentioned inside the write-up are several of the ideal offered [...]

  7. nipple stimulator - February 10, 2019

    nipple stimulator

    [...]one of our guests a short while ago proposed the following website[...]

  8. penis extender review - February 10, 2019

    penis extender review

    [...]always a significant fan of linking to bloggers that I appreciate but don’t get a lot of link enjoy from[...]

  9. silicone anal beads - February 10, 2019

    silicone anal beads

    [...]very couple of sites that come about to become detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly properly really worth checking out[...]

  10. windows vps - February 12, 2019

    windows vps

    [...]one of our visitors not too long ago advised the following website[...]

  11. Скачать песни - February 12, 2019

    Скачать песни

    [...]although internet websites we backlink to below are considerably not related to ours, we feel they may be truly really worth a go as a result of, so possess a look[...]

  12. big dildo - February 12, 2019

    big dildo

    [...]very few web sites that occur to become detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly nicely really worth checking out[...]

  13. prostate sex toys - February 12, 2019

    prostate sex toys

    [...]Every when in a even though we pick blogs that we read. Listed below are the most recent web sites that we pick [...]

  14. prostate toys - February 13, 2019

    prostate toys

    [...]Here are a few of the web pages we suggest for our visitors[...]

  15. p spot stimulation - February 13, 2019

    p spot stimulation

    [...]that could be the finish of this post. Right here you will locate some web-sites that we feel you’ll enjoy, just click the hyperlinks over[...]

  16. butt plug toys - February 13, 2019

    butt plug toys

    [...]Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine several unrelated data, nonetheless seriously really worth taking a look, whoa did a single find out about Mid East has got more problerms too [...]

  17. huge glass plug - February 13, 2019

    huge glass plug

    [...]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a whole lot of link enjoy from[...]

  18. luftbilder drohne - February 13, 2019

    luftbilder drohne

    [...]always a large fan of linking to bloggers that I like but don’t get a great deal of link enjoy from[...]

  19. 먹튀검증 - February 14, 2019


    [...]please go to the web pages we comply with, such as this one particular, because it represents our picks from the web[...]

  20. 먹튀검증 - February 15, 2019


    [...]just beneath, are numerous completely not connected internet sites to ours, nevertheless, they may be certainly worth going over[...]

  21. 안전공원 추천 - February 15, 2019

    안전공원 추천

    [...]we came across a cool internet site that you just could appreciate. Take a appear if you want[...]

  22. 네임드사다리 - February 15, 2019


    [...]check below, are some completely unrelated web sites to ours, nevertheless, they’re most trustworthy sources that we use[...]

  23. داستانهای سکسی - February 15, 2019

    داستانهای سکسی

    [...]the time to read or take a look at the content material or websites we have linked to below the[...]

  24. سكس نيك امهات - February 15, 2019

    سكس نيك امهات

    [...]usually posts some very exciting stuff like this. If you’re new to this site[...]

  25. LolyCam 18+ - February 16, 2019

    LolyCam 18+

    [...]one of our visitors a short while ago advised the following website[...]

  26. 토토사이트 - February 17, 2019


    [...]Sites of interest we have a link to[...]

  27. 안전공원 - February 17, 2019


    [...]one of our visitors not long ago suggested the following website[...]

  28. 먹튀검증 - February 17, 2019


    [...]one of our guests a short while ago proposed the following website[...]

  29. mature porn - February 17, 2019

    mature porn

    [...]just beneath, are many totally not connected web sites to ours, nevertheless, they may be certainly worth going over[...]

  30. Betty Barclay Precious Moments - February 18, 2019

    Betty Barclay Precious Moments

    [...]we like to honor numerous other web web pages on the web, even when they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Below are some webpages really worth checking out[...]

  31. شركة نقل عفش في الكويت - February 18, 2019

    شركة نقل عفش في الكويت

    [...]very handful of websites that come about to become comprehensive beneath, from our point of view are undoubtedly nicely really worth checking out[...]

  32. シルバーパーツ - February 19, 2019


    [...]Here is a superb Weblog You might Find Exciting that we Encourage You[...]

  33. esame statistica - February 19, 2019

    esame statistica

    [...]just beneath, are various completely not connected web pages to ours, nevertheless, they are certainly really worth going over[...]

  34. Impianto di riscaldamento di una abitazione civile - February 20, 2019

    Impianto di riscaldamento di una abitazione civile

    [...]please go to the web sites we adhere to, like this 1, as it represents our picks from the web[...]

  35. google translate english to zulu - February 21, 2019

    google translate english to zulu

    [...]please visit the internet sites we adhere to, like this one, because it represents our picks from the web[...]

Leave a Reply