John Scalzi – The Last Colony
Length: 324 pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Started: 28 September 2011
Finished: 30 September 2011
Where did it come from? BookMooch.
Why do I have it? I enjoyed Old Man’s War, 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.
Being in charge is
no fun when you don’t have all
Summary: John Perry and his wife, Jane Sagan, have both been decomissioned from the Colonial Defense Fleet – he from the regular CDF enlistment, she from Special Forces – and had their consciousnesses returned to unmodified human bodies. For the past seven years, they’ve been living in a small town on a small colony with their adopted daughter Zoe, trying to adjust to civilian life. But then they get tapped by the Colonial Union for an important job: leaders of a new colony, the first of its kind. But when the planet they arrive at is not the planet they were expecting, they get the first hint that there’s something they’re not being told. The CU is involved in some serious – and deadly – scheming, and while John and Jane don’t like being used as pawns, they must first keep themselves and the colonists for which they’re responsible alive long enough to confront the people who are really in charge.
Review: I continue to be impressed with John Scalzi’s range; each installment in the Old Man’s War series is a completely different beast than what’s come before it. The Last Colony is narrated by John Perry, narrator of Old Man’s War, so it’s not a difference in voice, but the tone of the story has changed quite a bit. While I would class Old Man’s War as part humor and part military fiction, The Last Colony reads more like a conspiracy thriller. (There’s plenty of humor and military action too, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not as much the focus.) Scalzi manages to pack in a lot of really good, complexly layered plots, with plenty of complicated schemes and conflicting agendas and powerful secrets. Even better, he was able to present them in such a way that I followed them easily but never saw them coming, and able to sympathize with his narrator’s frustration about being left in the dark without getting lost and frustrated myself. And amidst the scheming and action sequences and snarky dialogue, Scalzi also manages to drop in a lot of interesting points about the responsibilities of governments to their people and vice versa, the value of information and power, the realities of peace, and (as always) what it means to be human.
While on the whole the various layers of plot were woven together really well, I did finish the book feeling that there were still some dangling plot threads. There are several points that in the beginning and middle of the book are played like they’re going to be very important later, and then dropped without any real resolution. One of these elements (apologies for the vagueness; trying to avoid being overly spoilery here) was something that was done so effectively that I actually got creeped out reading about it, and it seemed to me like there was some fertile ground for storytelling in that direction, but instead it was just used as the catalyst for another plot point and then abandoned with nary a further mention. Aggravating, but on the whole there was enough other stuff going on that it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book overmuch. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Don’t pick this book up without having read the previous installments in the series, but on the whole Scalzi’s books are great for sci-fi that manages to be both serious and light at the same time.
First Line: Let me tell you of the worlds I’ve left behind.
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