John Scalzi – The Ghost Brigades
Read my review of book:
1. Old Man’s War
Length: 347 pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Started: 11 August 2011
Finished: 13 August 2011
Where did it come from? Bookmooch.
Why do I have it? I enjoyed Old Man’s War hugely, and so I got my hands on the sequels as soon as possible.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 02 July 2011.
How can you just be
yourself when there’s someone else
hiding in your brain?
Summary: The Colonial Defense Fleet is in danger; three alien species have formed an unheard-of alliance against humanity, and they’re being helped by a traitor: Charles Boutin, one of the CDF’s top experts in consciousness transfer. Boutin’s disappeared, but he’s left behind some DNA, and a consciousness imprint. The CDF uses his DNA to grow a nes super-soldier body, the same as they do for all recruits, but when they try to implant Boutin’s consciousness, it doesn’t take. The new person, named Jared Dirac, is placed in the Ghost Brigades, the Special Forces, just like the CDF recruits whose original bodies die before the personality is transferred. His CO, Jane Sagan, is tasked to keep an eye on him, but he seems normal enough… but does he secretly have the consciousness of a traitor lurking somewhere in his brain?
Review: The Old Man’s War books contain a lot of things I don’t ordinarily like in my sci-fi. Heavy militaristic slant, a lot of battles both in space and planetside, major reliance on technology as plot points, etc. And yet, here’s the thing: Scalzi can take all that, and still make it work for me. He’s able to take what would otherwise be fairly hard sci-fi, and blend it with humor and character development and some interesting perspectives on what it takes to be human, and how you define yourself as an individual, to make something more. The result is something that’s fast paced, full of action, and totally engrossing, but with a solid emotional core.
I didn’t like The Ghost Brigades quite as much as I liked Old Man’s War, partly because the first book was such a revelation, and partly because the second book wasn’t quite as funny. There were certainly still plenty of funny bits, but Jared’s a very different person than John Perry, with a different narrative voice, one that’s more introspective and naive than Perry’s dry snarkiness. Kudos to Scalzi for creating two such interesting and sympathetic (and at least somewhat funny) narrators, though.
Apart from the shift in the sense of humor, I did really appreciate that this book wasn’t a direct continuation of Old Man’s War. Scalzi’s built a fascinating universe, and it was nice to see it expand, and to get a new perspective on it… along with plenty of hints about what’s to come in the rest of the series. I don’t think this book could be read independently – there’s little-to-no opening exposition or worldbuilding, no explanation of the whole “genetically engineering super-soldiers” tactic of the CDF – so reading them in order is required. But there’s enough overlap in characters and plot between the two books that I already felt invested in the story, even before I got to know Jared. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Read Old Man’s War first; if you enjoy it, you’ll be just as happy with this one.
Other Reviews: Adventures in Reading, As Usual I Need More Bookshelves, Bart’s Bookshelf, Devourer of Books, A Dribble of Ink, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review, Medieval Bookworm, Neth Space, Stainless Steel Droppings, Stella Matutina
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: No one noticed the rock.
Vocab: (see the whole list)
- p. 256: “Jared was no expert on the Consu, but it seemed unlikely to him that a people so concerned with the ineffable and eschatological would create a people incapable of concerning themselves with either.” – any system of doctrines concerning last, or final, matters, as death, the Judgment, the future state, etc.
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