August 14, 2009

Zoe’s Tale was a totally dissatisfying read. It was a means to an end and that end was to fill the holes in the previous book in John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War universe, The Last Colony. I ate up The Last Colony. I fell in love with the characters and their situation, lost in space, not being able to communicate with their own people because they were, in a way, exiled. I enjoyed their wit and audaciousness.
I remember picking it up on a whim before a trip and beginning to read it at the airport. I remember Jesu was what was playing on my headphones, while my ex-girlfriend read whatever it was she was reading and listened to whatever it was she was listening to. We had probably missed our flight and were killing time until the next one. That’s how we travelled. We ran late, missed flights.
Once I finished The Last Colony, I ordered the two previous books in the story, Old Man’s War and Ghost Brigades. I ate them up too. I read them in record time, and I was ready to follow John Scalzi through this or any series of books. I hadn’t read sci-fi this fun since Ender’s Game.

Anyway, The Last Colony had massive plot holes and untied loose ends, and Zoe’s Tale, the story of The Last Colony told from the point of view of the protagonists’ teenage daughter, was Scalzi’s attempts to fill those holes and tie those loose ends.

Zoe, the teenager telling the story, is all sassy and smart and her personality just bleeds through the pages. It’s clunky and weird and there was a part at the very beginning where I worried she might try to fuck her female best friend.
I’m sure it’s a hell an undertaking for an adult male author to write a book from within the head of a teenage girl, and I can appreciate the ambitiousness of the project, but in this case it didn’t work. I’m not interested in spoiling anything about the book so I won’t go into scenes that I disliked in particular, but I can say that I was a little relieved when it was over. I didn’t want to see teenage Zoe ever again. I like John Scalzi, mostly, and I’ll keep reading his books. Maybe even one where Zoe’s an adult and it doesn’t feel like Scalzi’s so far out of his element.
Yeah.
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