This is for the Audiobook version.
A 3 star listen that could have been 4 or 5 star.
The Three Body Problem is the first part of a trilogy in which an alien planet, Trisolaris, intercepts a radio transmission from China. Trisolaris orbits 3 stars and due to the gravitational tug of war between those 3 stars, is subject to a violently unpredictable climate. Discovering Earth, Trisolaris plans to invade and claim the mild unchanging climate for themselves.
It took me at least an hour and a half of listening before I felt that that the story had actually begun as it goes through some back story that is only just relevant and could have been covered in a much shorter time.
When the book just gets on with the action its a great listen and has an interesting plot. The main problem with this book is that it is far better when its written as a sci-fi thriller than as the hard sci-fi it often bogs down in.
It can be a frustrating book to listen to due to some flaws that occasionally hobble the story. Large sections of the story are set in a computer game, which explains the history of Trisolaris and asks players to try to solve the riddle of predicting the varying climate of the planet. However these sections are long, mind numbingly tedious and repetitive.
There are also some problems with the internal logic of the story. The most obvious is why a group of traitors on Earth (a group of people who have grown disillusioned with the human race) conspire with the aliens to help them invade. They do this without even knowing one single detail about the alien race except for the fact that they exist. They also do this despite the fact that the very first message they get from the aliens is from a pacifist who tells them starkly and ominously not to answer any further communications as it would risk annihalation to humanity.
The last section of the book is also rather tedious and written in a dreamy style which stalls the momentum of the story. This part details the aliens plan to invade Earth (which due to the huge distance will be 450 years from now) and how they plan to disrupt human science so humanity won't have the technology to defend itself. This is also the part of the book where the hard sci-fi element is most prevalent as it describes the scientific principles and experiments they do. Just tell us what the gizmo is and what it does and get on with the story!!!! This is another part of the book that could have been written far more economically and with better characterisation.
One other point pertinent to the Audiobook version is the difficulty Westerners may have familiarising themselves with various characters in the first half of the book. Because the Chinese names are so unfamiliar it can be a little difficult to get a handle on who is who early on - but this does get easier as the story settles and the cast of characters solidifies.
As I said, this first book is first in a trilogy and I will go onto the next book as the story was interesting enough to keep me engaged, I'm hoping though that the second installment has a better editor.