Zoe’s Tale, by John Scalzi (5 July — 6 July)

I didn’t intend to re-read this book so soon… but as mentioned in my last post, I was on vacation and ran out of books! I had brought this book just for Scott to read, which he did and of course he loved it, but when our plane got held up in a taxi line in Atlanta, I “resigned” myself to reading it.

In case you don’t remember, I read this book in December and enjoyed it enough to go back to the beginning of the series and read the other three. Then, when I got to The Last Colony, I thought it might have been better to have read this one last. Well, now that I’ve read it both first and last, as it were, I would definitely say it’s better read last. It certainly stands alone and is awesome at it, but it makes infinitely more sense having read the first three books. Especially I would recommend reading The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale in quick succession, because the story is so much fuller that way.

Also, I cried again, at the same two points in the story, so either I have overactive tear ducts or Scalzi is a damn fine writer. Possibly both.

Rating: 8/10, again, because it’s still excellent!
(Summer Lovin’ Challenge)

The Last Colony, by John Scalzi (19 March — 20 March)

Another good book! Hooray!

This is the last book for me (but not the actual last book) of the Old Man’s War series. I started with the previously linked book and then went back to the beginning to see what I’d missed. A lot, apparently. 🙂

Anyway, this book tells the last story of the original trilogy, which is the formation of the colony of Roanoke — aptly named. John Perry and Jane Sagan, our friends from the previous books, are put in charge of the colonization as it is being done not by humans from Earth, as is the usual MO, but by previous colonists, a first for the Colonial Union. John and Jane have to convince 2500 people of 10 different homeworlds to like each other, and it’s not easy. And, of course, when they do start figuring it out, other things come in to play, like the fact that the Colonial Union has been lying to everyone about the nature of the colony. And that there’re some people out there who want to destroy the colony. And that maybe it’s okay if that happens. Oh boy.

This was very interesting to read after reading Zoe’s Tale, since that book is just a retelling of this one from Zoe’s point of view. I can see why Scalzi wanted to write that second one… although this story is very good in and of itself, there are a lot of weird jumps and convenient things happening that I could forgive because I knew what happened by having read the other book. If I did it again, though, I’d read them in order.

Rating: 8/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2007, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

The Ghost Brigades, by John Scalzi (6 March — 8 March)

I finished up this book really early this morning (really, how does one wake up at 7:30 EDT on the first day of Daylight Savings when she doesn’t usually wake up until 8 or 9 in the first place?), and I must say that I was pretty much ready to move on once I did. I liked the book, for sure, but it suffers from that second-book-in-a-series problem of wanting to keep the story moving but also wanting to get people ready for a third book. And maybe I’m too ready for the third book, since the book that started me on this whole thing (the fourth in the series) is a retelling of it.

But it was good! Scalzi abandons John Perry for the moment to focus on Jane Sagan and, more particularly, a new Special Forces soldier called Jared Dirac. Dirac is special because he was created to house the consciousness of one Charles Boutin, who turned traitor on humanity but conveniently left a copy of his consciousness behind (he does consciousness research, it’s not that far-fetched…). It doesn’t take, and Dirac is just trained as a new SF recruit under Sagan, who knows his history and is understandably upset and skeptical about his abilities.

Thus the first half of the book takes a good look at the Special Forces (also called the Ghost Brigades) and what it means to be part of it, with lots of speculation about the soullessness of both the Special Forces soldiers and those who made them. Then, when (spoiler alert?) Dirac finally unlocks a bit of Boutin’s consciousness, it’s time to go track down the traitor and figure out whether Dirac or Boutin or anyone, really, is the ethical person in this shenanigan.

Rating: 7/10
(Support Your Local Library Challenge)

Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi (24 January — 25 January)

I read Zoe’s Tale, the most recent in this series, last month and it was quite good, so when I saw this first novel on the shelf at the library, I had to grab it.

The premise of Old Man’s War is that Earth, with its surplus of population, is off colonizing other planets, but then so are a whole bunch of other intelligent races. To make sure that humans get enough planets, the Colonial Defense Forces keep their ranks healthily supplied — with 75-year-olds.

John Perry is one of these “old farts.” The novel follows his story, from why he decided to join up to how 75-year-olds are prepared for intergalactic war and just what war means on a universal scale.

It’s a good time and a quick read and I definitely need to grab the next book tout de suite.

Rating: 8.5/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2005, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

Zoe’s Tale, by John Scalzi (7 December — 11 December)

I’d seen this book making its way around the various blogs I read, and everyone seemed to like it, so I picked it up from the library. It’s not quite what I was expecting, but it was definitely good.

This is a book in Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series, but I haven’t read those so I can’t comment too much on how it fits in, except that Scalzi writes in his acknowledgements that the book runs parallel to the events of The Last Colony. Sweet, I guess?

This novel is the story of Zoë Boutin Perry, a teenager who is part of the first colony of colonists — where her planet was settled by people from Earth, she and a bunch of people from other planets are settling a new one. The problems start when the Colonial Union, who is sanctioning this colonization, informs the travellers that they are being hunted by a group called the Conclave who don’t want anybody but themselves colonizing anything.

Things get worse from there, with all of the colonists forced to give up on electronics (gasp!) and the weird animals of the new planet — Roanoke — trying to kill the settlers and vice versa. Zoë is also told by her bodyguards (read the book!) that she may personally be being hunted, so she has to step up for some intensive combat training in addition to school and founding a civilization without a PDA.

I liked the book quite a bit; it was very light-hearted and definitely sounded like it was narrated by a teenager. And Scalzi really makes the characters real. I had cried twice by the end of the book, and I don’t care what you think! I will definitely have to pick up Old Man’s War at some point in the future.

Rating: 8/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2008)