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Slower, tighter plot with a few shortcomings,
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This review is from: The Ghost Brigades (The Old Man's War series) (Paperback)
So this one took a good bit longer to read than Old Man's War - not just because of being a slow reader, but other factors which I'll touch on briefly later.
In this sequel to Old Man's War we are told of the Colonial Defense Force's attempts to quell the threat of attack from 3 races who have joined forces against them. They key to survival lies in one Jared Dirac - a new Special Forces (aka "The Ghost Brigades") soldier grown to house the mind of a defector scientist who is seemingly the instigator for the alien threat.
Old Man's War was written in first-person narrative with a lot of text dedicated to speech, and thus is very quick to read. In the case of The Ghost Brigades, Scalzi takes the opposite tack - plenty of descriptive words written in third-person and with less speech, and this makes it a somewhat longer read (despite being of physically similar length) as you slow down to engage your mind's eye. Structurally this novel is again similar to Old Man's War - guy joins the army in unusual circumstances, fights a bunch of battles, past comes back to haunt him, final ending battle - but in the this case everything is more tightly plotted and relevant. So again, this book is similar yet different than the previous entry.
Scalzi writes of Dirac's state of mind well as the implanted memories within him start to wake, and he illustrates the conflict of personality within him as well as the importance of being able to make your own choices, and how they make you an individual. While most of the character development focuses on Dirac, that of the other characters suffers a bit - whether this is due to the nature of the story or Scalzi's writing is debatable, but he does give the other players a reasonable amount of character to differentiate them all.
Overall a slower book with a tighter plot and interesting philosophical explorations, but still with some (minor) shortcomings.