Zoe's Tale (The Old Man’s War series) Paperback – 5 Jun 2009
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'A refreshing addition to the science-fiction genre in the new millennium.'
The new book in John Scalzi's exciting sci-fi series which started with Old Man's War.See all Product description
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Tale” was written as a parallel novel to “The Last Colony”.
I won't trouble you with the plot, as it is essentially the same as TLC; what it does is to bring a different perspective to the proceedings of that novel told by Zoë herself, so naturally the tone is different, the narrative conveyed in the slightly smart-alecky style of a teen-age girl, though Zoë of course, through circumstance has a bit more maturity and responsibility than most seventeen-year-olds.
The book serves to clarify and explain a few of the episodes from the TLC plotline and to provide a deeper and more rounded picture of events and some characters as they appeared in the original book.
Is it essential reading if you`ve read TLC? No, not really, but if – like me - you enjoyed TLC it isn`t a trial to re-immerse yourself in it`s world a second time; just be prepared for a rather more Young Adult approach to the storytelling – otherwise it`s a fairly entertaining, engaging and fast read. It does get a little saccharine in places - given the emotional currents of Zoë`s character - but otherwise it provides a fairly decent supplement/coda to both TLC and the first trilogy in the series.
I enjoyed it, reading it a few months after bingeing on the first three “Old Man's War” novels; a minor deviation from Scalzi`s usual approach in storytelling perhaps, but it is certainly no literary disaster.
Although initially you might think it's all about retelling the Lost Colony story through Zoe's eyes, I think the real gem here is the fleshing out the relationship between Zoe and the Obin. They've always come across a little one-dimensional and this helps round them out.
If we are going to do this again, let's get Hickory's version of events. The interpretation might be a little more stretching than this.
By the authors own admission, it was a convenience to tie up a few loose ends, but I think I would have been happier with a one page list of 'tied off loose ends' sent to each Kindle reader who had bought Last Colony.
Read it, set complete. Done.
Now doing something like this is fraught with peril, as readers of the earlier books will certainly know how everything ends, and will therefore have little sense of suspense throughout this work. It is even more perilous for a middle-aged man to attempt to find the correct `voice' for a teenaged female, one that rings true and will appeal to younger readers, and still engage readers of much greater ages. I'm happy to say that Mr. Scalzi quite deftly succeeded very, very well with both the characterization and being able to still hold at least this reader glued to the pages, even without the suspense.
Zoe herself is a full-bodied person, one you'd definitely like to meet, someone you come to care about a great deal over the course of this work. She's not perfect, she makes mistakes, occasionally her sarcasm and biting comments might make you grimace, and there is an element of unthinking `me-ness' to her, an attitude that she's unique. But in this case, she really is unique - not many girls can say that they are the goddess-object of an entire alien race. But besides her, several of her close friends also come alive as real people, something that's a little rare in first-person perspective works. Gretchen, Magdy, and Enzo are very much real people, and even better, real teenagers.
Certain aspects of other major players are given better backgrounds, most especially the Obin and Zoe's two Obin bodyguards, Hickory and Dickory, and a certain story `hole' in The Last Colony gets a better, fuller explanation. These are nice touches that help hold your interest.
Scalzi's writing style has much to do with your enjoyment of this book. It's witty, sarcastic, funny, thoughtful, and incredibly easy to read, a trait he shares with a writer he's often compared to, namely Robert Heinlein. But beyond this, in this book he also grabs your jugular of emotional response, expertly playing you like a harp, and making you at time furious, sad, and very strongly up-lifted to the point of tears. It's just this strong emotional content that makes me think this book is better than The Last Colony, and on par with the first book of this series, Old Man's War.
All in all, a great accomplishment, one that should appeal to both teenagers and old codgers like me.
---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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I purchased the whole series and it doesn't disappoint....more please!!!
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