You might recall, in my review of The Last Colony, I said that John Scalzi was ending his Old Man’s War series and letting the characters retire in peace. Well, not so much. In fact, due to popular demand, he brought back the series, at least from the perspective of Zoe, the daughter. Now I don’t really mind so much, I like the universe and while Zoe isn’t my favorite by any means, I can deal with her. So he’s really given us a new book, telling The Last Colony from her side of the story. Is it good? Let’s find out!
I won’t spend any real time explaining the plot because if you read The Last Colony, you already know. This is a retelling of the story from the perspective of Zoe, the adopted daughter of John Perry and Jane Sagan, as well as an attempt to “fix” a couple of things that received complaints from fans in the original.
Unfortunately, this was a real struggle to get through. It wasn’t Scalzi’s writing, it’s as good as always, it’s the fact that I’ve already read this book and there just wasn’t enough new content that I really cared about to make it worthwhile. I’d pick it up, read 20 pages and put it down again and then not pick it up again for a week or more. In his foreward, Scalzi says he wanted to write a book that parallels The Last Colony. After all, what could be easier? He came to regret that decision, but he also wanted to address some problems with the original book, problems that I and many other people pointed out in reviews. I guess you can try to go home again but I don’t know how successful you’ll be. That turned out to be the case here.
Besides, no matter how realistic Scalzi tried to make Zoe, and he says he had to work very hard at it, I’m not really that interested in reading stories told from the supposed perspective of a 16 year old girl. I have a 16 year old daughter and Scalzi didn’t really get it right, but even if he had, I wouldn’t want to read an adult science fiction book that my daughter wrote either because my interest isn’t in tales told by young adults. Zoe works as a background character, she just doesn’t work, at least as far as I’m concerned, as the center of attention. Besides, Zoe doesn’t come across as a 16 year old girl, she comes across as an adult in a 16-year old skin and I don’t see how she could do otherwise, given what Scalzi has her doing. She’s got a lighter tone as a teenager, doing things that no teenager is going to be doing and acting mature far, far beyond her years. That broke my suspension of disbelief and I never got it back.
But I want to bring this back to not being a bad book. It isn’t, at all. It’s just not my kind of book, even though both Old Man’s War and The Last Colony were. Ghost Brigades had some issues, but you can go read my review for that. It filled in some details that were missed in The Last Colony, but beyond that, Zoe’s Tale really didn’t give me a full story that I really wanted.