John Scalzi – Zoe’s Tale
Length: 406 pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Started: 24 November 2011
Finished: 25 November 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.
The teen years are hard
enough without aliens
treating you like God.
Summary: Zoe’s Tale is a companion novel to (or a retelling of) The Last Colony. While The Last Colony told the tale of the colonization of the planet Roanoke from John Perry’s point of view, Zoe’s Tale is narrated by his adopted teenage daughter, Zoe. The Last Colony focused more on the political, tactical, and military-technological aspects of the colonization, while Zoe’s Tale is a lot more concerned with the personal, and the familial. Because Zoe is girl with a lot of family: apart from her adoptive parents, John and Jane, she also has the Obin – an entire race of aliens that regard her biological father, Charles Boutin, as their savior, and thus revere his daughter. Zoe’s always accepted the Obin’s presence in her life, but as she grows up, she’s starting to become tired of being a symbol, and when her human family is put in danger, she has to decide who she really is, and how much she’s willing to risk to save the ones she love.
Review: This book was wonderful. It must be incredibly difficult to re-write one of your own novels from a different point of view while simultaneously staying true to the perspective of your character and not getting repetitive, but Scalzi pulls it off with flair. I don’t know if I’d consider Zoe’s Tale a novel that’s complete in and of itself – because of the lack of repetitiveness, there are a lot of plot points that are glossed over pretty quickly, under the assumption that readers have already read The Last Colony. But, on the other hand, Zoe’s Tale fills in the gaps of a lot of things that The Lost Colony glossed over (at the top of the list: what happened with the fantie-hunters, and what happened to Zoe during the time she left the planet), so the result is that they complement each other perfectly, each book picking up where the other left off.
Another thing that Scalzi does wonderfully is Zoe’s voice. I’ve commented before on his range when it comes to protagonist voices, but he absolutely nails the POV of an intelligent, good-natured, snarky, but basically still teenaged girl. Even for events in the story where both Zoe and John are present, and are therefore in both books, Zoe’s got her own unique take on things, and she never feels like less than a 100% authentic, real teenager.
As a result both of how real Zoe felt, and of her unique relationships, Zoe’s Tale had me getting sniffly multiple times over the course of the book. That’s mostly a good thing: I didn’t feel like the story was being emotionally manipulative, but was rather genuinely affecting, and all of its drama was well-earned. However, having to wipe away tears every fifty pages or so is decidedly inconvenient when one is reading this in company after Thanksgiving dinner. Hopefully everyone else was so absorbed in the football game that they didn’t notice how absorbed I was in this book. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: I don’t know how well this book would stand alone; it’s so bound up with The Last Colony that I can’t say whether it would work separately from the rest of the series. But it’s a great book, and the series as a whole has been hugely enjoyable, so definitely recommended.
Other Reviews: Bart’s Bookshelf, Bookshelves of Doom, Devourer of Books, Presenting Lenore, Stainless Steel Droppings, Stella Matutina and more over at the Book Blog Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: I lifted up my dad’s PDA and counted off the seconds with the two thousand other people in the room.
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