The 8 best Mass Effect books you can't miss

Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3 (Image credit: BioWare/EA)

Mass Effect is a popular sci-fi video game series, built by BioWare, a subsidiary of EA. The latest entry in the franchise, Mass Effect Andromeda, launched to a mixed reaction, leading to the series' indefinite hiatus. Still, that doesn't mean the universe is dead.

Whether you're a fan of the nomadic Quarians, the ancient Protheans, or the devastating Reapers themselves, there's an exciting Mass Effect book just for you.

Mass Effect: Revelation by Drew Karpyshyn

Mass Effect: Revelation by Drew Karpyshyn is a prequel to the original Mass Effect title from 2007. Set in the year 2165, David Anderson (a human officer) and Saren Arterius (a turian Spectre) must form an unlikely and shaky alliance in order to discover the truth about an attack on a human research station. With humanity only recently joining the galactic community, the political pressure to keep the species looking capable and responsible has never been more critical. However, with Saren's brutal and cruel nature stretching Anderson's moral tolerance to the breaking point, as well as the threat of an infamous krogan bounty hunter looming over their heads, the odds only continue to stack up against them.

Revelation is a very well written prequel to the first game that gives a large amount of information about the history of the universe, including how humanity became part of the galactic community. On top of this, it characterizes both Anderson and Saren, two characters from the first game, incredibly well. For fans who loved the original Mass Effect, this book is a fantastic prelude.

Mass Effect: Revelation is available on Amazon for $7.19.

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Mass Effect: Ascension by Drew Karpyshyn

Mass Effect: Ascension by Drew Karpyshyn is a sequel to the original Mass Effect. This novel is heavily focused on the pro-human, xenophobic group known as Cerberus, and their pursuit of an autistic young biotic prodigy named Gillian Grayson. Aided by Kahlee Sanders, a returning character from Revelation, Grayson does everything she can to stay away from Cerberus. But when the quarian Migrant Fleet becomes involved, the situation becomes even more complicated than anyone could have expected.

Ascension is a great book solely because of the insight it gives into the lives of the quarians. There's a wealth of information to learn about their species that only adds on to and clarifies what Tali 'Zorah from the video games tells the player about her race. Aside from the quarian aspect, though, this book also strongly introduces the Cerberus group, effectively serving as a prelude to Mass Effect 2.

Mass Effect: Ascension is available on Amazon for $7.19.

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Mass Effect: Retribution by Drew Karpyshyn

Mass Effect: Retribution by Drew Karpyshyn is set after the events of Mass Effect 2, and is related to the previous novel, Ascension. Paul Grayson, the adoptive father of Gillian Grayson, is sought out for as a test subject by the Illusive Man and Cerberus to study the effects of Reaper technology on people and learn what it can do. When Paul goes missing, Kahlee Sanders calls upon her old friend David Anderson to help her. However, they aren't the only ones looking for Paul, and their time is running out.

Retribution to me is a very interesting book. It's excellently written, and it gives a strong perspective on the effects of Reaper indoctrination on living minds. The returning cast of Sanders and Anderson is also a plus, and it helps make this universe feel connected.

Mass Effect: Retribution is available on Amazon for $7.19.

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Mass Effect Andromeda: Nexus Uprising by Jason M. Hough and K. C. Alexander

Mass Effect Andromeda: Nexus Uprising is a prequel to the recent video game Mass Effect Andromeda. When the Nexus Security Director wakes up from cryostasis aboard the Nexus craft, she discovers that the ship has suffered critical damage and that everyone on board is in immediate danger. Meeting with other survivors to ascertain the cause of the damage, they all discover that several members of the leadership are dead. With the need for repairs paramount, the crew of the Nexus begins to do their best to get it stable. But this task is not an easy one; between dwindling rations, a rebel outbreak, and issues with the repair effort, those aboard the Nexus are in for an ultimate fight for their survival.

I like this book mostly because of its uniqueness. This survival type of story is something that hasn't really been explored with Mass Effect before, and I think the authors did a great job with it. In addition, it serves as an excellent prequel to the video game Andromeda, and also explains why the Nexus is as run down as it is when we first encounter it in-game.

Mass Effect Andromeda: Nexus Uprising is available on Amazon for $6.40.

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The Art of Mass Effect

The Art of Mass Effect is an incredibly extensive collection of artworks and designs from the Mass Effect video games. Ranging from ships to armor to species designs, this work gives an in-depth look at the creative process behind crafting the universe of Mass Effect. The most recent edition of this book from 2012 includes the art of Mass Effect 3, so The Art of Mass Effect is, without a doubt, the definitive art collection of the original trilogy.

I think the reason I really, really love this book is to see what was going through the minds of the artists as they built Mass Effect from the ground up. Every species, weapon, ship, and even the locations were designed the way they were to convey a theme and to make the player of the game feel something. I'm a sucker for really deep artistic stuff like this, and so if you are too, I cannot recommend this book enough. It's absolutely incredible.

The Art of Mass Effect is available on Amazon for $24.62.

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The Art of Mass Effect: Andromeda

The Art of Mass Effect: Andromeda is, just like the previous book, a large collection of artwork (conceptual and otherwise) that was created in the process of crafting the Andromeda Galaxy in the new game.

I don't have much to say for this one as it's good for the same reasons the last book was, but if you liked the artistic designs in Andromeda, or the new Angara species, than I would say this book is definitely a must.

The Art of Mass Effect: Andromeda is available on Amazon for $22.91.

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Mass Effect Library Edition Vol. 1 and 2

The library editions of Mass Effect comics contain several different stories from all over the Mass Effect universe. These anthologies are jam-packed with lore content, and by the time you finish both of them, you'll have an incredibly deeper understanding of the events that occurred before (and after) the video game storylines. Ranging from Cerberus to the quarians to the asari and everything between, there is no shortage of entertaining narrative in these pages.

On top of this, the artwork is also phenomenal, and adds a gorgeous visual element that enhances the storytelling and makes the read that much more enjoyable. If you're a lore junkie like myself, then both volumes of the library editions are guaranteed to keep you entertained for days on end.

Volume 1 is available on Amazon for $35.46, while Volume 2 is available for $37.99.

Your thoughts

Have you read any of these Mass Effect books? If so, which was your favorite? Is there one that wasn't on this list that you think should have been? Let us know in the comments below!

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.