It's rather fun to have finished the book right before you finish watching the season that it connects to (well, mostly). But it means it'll be difficult for me to write this review without bringing in elements of the season!
I read the first book in the series last year, and don't really remember much about its style or focus. I do remember that the first season of the TV series followed it pretty darn closely, plot-wise. That is emphatically not the case for this second book in the series... It's difficult for me to remember that for those only reading the books, Avarasala is a brand-new character. Well, they're writing her as spicily as they're portraying her, thank goodness. Holden is still idealistic, but the flavor of that has changed (as well as for his crew). Miller is gone (well, I doubt that long-term), and the book provides a lot of nods to his brand of heroism (as in, it was a very good thing). There's also a new character, whom I sort of appreciated in writing - Prax, the botanist - in that he brought a specific human element to the story. But the plot twisted in favor of that human element, and I'm not sure it works wonders for the crew of the Rocinante (too much neat tying up of bows).
All together, these books are still slow. They take their time to get you from point A to point B, but I don't mind that. It's what sci-fi space opera is all about, right?