The Ghost Brigades (The Old Man’s War series) Paperback – 1 Feb. 2008
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The problem is that after this book I went on to read book 3, which was a disaster, skipped book 4 due to the bad reviews and the fact it’s apparently a retelling of book 3 (which was bad), but read book 5 which is catastrophic.
So if you’re like me and like to read series on, then do yourself a favour and don’t in this case. The first book was fun, ended on a high note. Best to leave this series there and not read on. I wish I had.
Though set in the same universe the second book follows a completely different set of characters, Jane Sagan from the Ghost Brigades and a new recruit Jared Dirac. This isn't any standard recruit though. He is made from the DNA of a traitor who sold out humanity to hostile alien forces. His conciseness however was transferred over from a scan to this newly created body, this procedure has never been done before though and it doesn't seem to have taken. He is being watched carefully in case it does as they don't know if it's a friend or foe that will come out....
I really liked the story and the development of Dirac and the extra universe building this book brought to the series. It goes in a slightly different direction to Old Man's War and I think it's better for it. There are some interesting philosophical moments of what makes a person who they are, but there is still plenty of action scenes involving the hostile aliens the first book set up though there are fewer races this time and each one gets a little more background development rather than just another hostile force.
Much like the first book I like John Scalzi's writing style. It's easy to read, clear with good pacing. If you're a fan of Robert Heinlein or Joe Haldeman then this series is definitely for you. It's (so far) one of the better military sci-fi novels I've read in recent years.
+ Interesting story.
+ Some interesting philosophical moments and great action scenes.
+ Some more background in the universe John Scalzi created.
+ Easy reading, with good pacing.
The series is definitely worth the effort of reading and The Ghost Brigades is therefore worth reading for completeness' sake, but if it were a stand-alone story rather than one-of-many I would have felt that it was money poorly spent.
Buy it and read it, you will not regret it, if you liked ' The old man war ' you will enjoy this book as much as if not even more.
Scalzi deepens into the world he has been building in the first book , and he comes out with a well constructed novel and likeable characters that will entertain you , make you smile and feel emotional at times.
I will start with the third in the series soon , I cannot wait.
The concept of Old Man's War was that old people were put into young bodies on the condition that they would fight in humanity's wars against a universe crammed with hostile intelligences. Here things are even more extreme, with soldiers grown from the DNA of the dead, hence the title. As with any high concept novel, it needs to make the action move sufficiently rapidly to prevent the reader from having time to think through the ridiculousness of the core idea. Here, Scalzi pulls off the conjuring trick admirably.
Scalzi is a writer who knows the genre in which he works intimately, explicitly referencing many other writers. On one level his work could be seen as sitting alongside the ultra violent "computer game" writers like Richard Morgan or Neal Ascherson, but the real feel is of something more old fashioned. The most obvious reference points are Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Haldeman's Forever War. He even treads onto the ground of Philip K Dick in examining what it is to be human.
So what you get here is a mixture of pulp, shoot em up alien bashing, with a bit of cyberpunk style technology, and a cracking conspiracy thriller, with a very heavy nod in the direction of Mary Shelley.
It's not great literature, but if you enjoy a high octane romp, it's a fine piece of entertainment.
Top international reviews
Not wanting to spoil it, I can say the characters are mainly new and we get more background on alien races. Pacing is great and you really don't want to put it down, but do take time for some of the ideas to sink in. The psycological atmosphere can get a bit kitsch, yet it is believable for the characters. What projects the book further is the communication between the main parties.
Some may find the book a bit less demanding, but Scalzi is a gifted writer and may well produce a masterpiece. His style is very readable and his characters well fleshed-out. Stories are good, yet I get the feeling he can offer us more. Until then, enjoy the current harvest.
I recently started reading the third book in the series and can gladly say that it seems to be back on track :) ! You probably wouldn't regret reading the second part but in my opinion it isn't essential either.
All in all a satisfactory sequel, providing enough new material that it doesn't feel like a re-hash, and it _almost_ keeps up with the snappy pacing of the first book.
Not unnecessarily long winded. Gives the reader something to think about if they want to.
Some interesting twists in this book in the series, and it sets the series up nicely for some epic contests.