Old Man’s War series

I finished reading the first three books in this series and enjoyed them very much. For those unfamiliar with the series by John Scalzi, it includes Old Man’s War, Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, and Zoe’s Tale. The series take ideas from such great novels such as The Forever War, but blends them into a new situation. The premise involves humans colonizing space, but Earth itself is overpopulated and technologically behind the Colonial Defense Forces (CDF) which controls all human colonies. Older people are given an opportunity when they reach 75 to join the CDF and fight for humanity. If they survive, they are provided with a new place to live a second life. You see, the older people, who can never return to Earth, are transformed into younger people again. How this occurs and the implications of this situation with regard to our main character, John Perry, are explained in the first book. Scalzi develops many good characters and some really cool technology. There is also a lot of humor and great action here.

The second book takes place after the first one. John Perry is only mentioned in the book, but other characters from the first book take part in the story; we also meet many new characters and learn a lot more about the CDF and the Ghost Brigades. Of course we get more action, throughout the book and more mysteries to solve. We also learn more about some of the other races and some things that will be important in the third and fourth books.

The third book changes to first person (the first two book are told from third person) from John Perry’s perspective. It works okay for the story of this book, but this book had a lot less direction and much less action than the first two. We get more cool technology, but we also get a haphazard story that tells a little of this, then shifts focus to a little of that. This book does a good job of bringing the story to a close, but I think it was the weakest of the first three books.

In case you are wondering, I don’t plan on reading the fourth book because it is a retelling of the third book only from Zoe’s perspective. I wanted to read the third book first to decide if I needed to read the fourth, and the answer was no. There is one part of the third book where Zoe is away that is fleshed out in the fourth book, but I don’t think that part of the story is crucial to the telling. The summary we get of the events in the third book is sufficient. There is also apparently some further part about the natives of the colony planet that Scalzi sort of just quit talking about at one point in the third book, but again their part in the story is not relevant to the overall picture. With this in mind, I didn’t see any reason to read an entire book which many reviewers online have said at least part of which is annoying teenager speak.

If you are looking for some good military and political sci-fi, check out the first three books of the Old Man’s War series. The fourth book is optional in my opinion.

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