Solid finish to a solid series. John Scalzi does two things very well: 1) truly alien aliens 2) humor in the midst of otherwise serious books. I like the finish here because the story is told from multiple perspectives, starting first with a “brain in a box.” As each character adds to the story, moving it forward, the drama and tension builds. I was a touch disappointed in the final chapter, otherwise this would be five stars. I do recommend the series because its enjoyable, different, and filled with great, quick reads.
The first review I wrote for this series was after finishing The Last Colony, and thinking the series was done. I didn’t think much of it, partly due to the short book length, and party due to not really appreciating John Scalzi’s writing style as much as I do now. I digress. I enjoy this series. I love how the aliens are all so very, very alien. And I like that each book follows different characters—making the true main characters the Colonial Defense Force and Earth (and aliens as a whole).
I can’t honestly give this my strongest recommendation as I love the longer, deeper, space-opera style books. However, the writing is solid, there’s a lot of humor throughout—laugh out loud humor—and it takes place in a vast universe. It is a very good series. And I haven’t even finished it, yet.
One day I logged into Audible and they were offering a new short story by John Scalzi in the Old Man’s War universe for free. It was the first of 13 such short stories. My library is a bit cluttered because I have them all separate, but the sum of the parts is excellent and worth the clutter. Consider this an omnibus, and well worth it. As I dug into this series, I actually began to appreciate Scalzi’s writing far more than I had before. The interplay between the main character, CDF soldier Harry Wilson, and his diplomatic counterpart, Hart Schmidt is absolutely fantastic. This is a great addition, but only worthwhile if you’ve read (at least) the first and third books.
To John Scalzi’s credit, he neither delves into pseudo-religious rants nor repeat the same tired plotlines in his third book. However, he also doesn’t even cross the ten-hour mark in the audiobook. Like I said in the prior review, these first three books would be just one book under some other authors. Anyway, it doesn’t diminish the book. It’s not my favorite of the series, but it’s a great midpoint, and turning point to the Old Man’s War series.
As short as these books are—at least for the sci-fi genre—they pack a punch. The thing that Scalzi does well is create interesting aliens that are truly… alien. At least to us. He also spreads out his stories into separate books. What would be one massive tome if penned by Peter F. Hamilton is a few different books by Scalzi. This book doesn’t necessarily require reading the first, as it focuses on mostly new characters, but it is a good follow-on.