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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2013
This is not a book. This is a 13 episode TV show that you read.
Given those to things, this was an awesome Pilot for a show I can't wait to see more of. Set in the same universe as Old Man's War and featuring one of the minor characters from that series, Harry Wilson: High School Teacher. Like most of Scalzi's work it was fun and fast paced.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2013
This is the first of thirteen installments & I quite liked it. No spoilers but the characters were crisp (Wilson & Schmidt had great banter) & made for an easy read. The mystery of what happens to the Polk unfolds smoothly. Very good beginning & I'm really looking forward to the next part.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2013
First, I don't mind the storyline. It in fact seems like it has some potential, but I will not be buying any of these rest of this series (I read up to #3).

At first I though this was going to be like the A-Team from 70's TV in a modern telling. But it is not nearly that interesting.

It is really a single book spread out over 13 chapters you buy one a time. To me that is a little like having to pay each time I pick up my drink and take a sip rather than just buying the whole can. I cannot imagine why publishers think this is a good idea.

When I can read an entire episode while waiting to get my teeth cleaned at the dentist they are WAY too short.

So either package these together into true Novellas with multiple parts, or try something else. I understand that publishers and authors are experimenting with different ways to make money in the new ebook world, but this is not one that I will support.

Now this is actually pretty sad that my review is much more about the publishing model than the actual book, sorry. I like John as a writer and have gone out of my way to buy copies of Old Mans War to give them to friends just to expose them to the concepts and writing. I will not be doing that with this series.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2013
I love Scalzis books. He is in fact one of my favorites. The reason I did not give The B Team a high rating was the monotonous dialog between characters which by the end of this novellett had driven me crazy. The story was good but in an effort to lengthen it, I think Scalzi put in these juvenile needling interplays back and forth between the characters. Hey, character development is one thing, overdoing it the way he did would not work well in a real situation and does not work well in a otherwise good story. This in no way makes me think any lesser then I do as John Scalzi is a brilliant author. It just seems like that good charter interplay was not his concern. Read Old Man's War, The Ghost brigades and The last colony. All 5 star from John Scalzi. The contrast from those books to this is why I was a bit surprised.
Enough Said
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2013
I have read all of Scalzi's books and have really enjoyed them. I even thought this first installment was pretty good. However when I bought the second installment and it only took me about 5 -10 minutes to read it, I was seriously disappointed! This is just another thinly veiled scheme to get more money for less story (just like the "Vitalis" series I stopped reading after #3 was so short). While I may pay $13-$17 for a hardback, I will have that on my shelf that I can share, sell or donate to my local library. There are way too many excellent ebooks out there for $0.99 - $4.99 to have to spend $13.88 for several small digital files... Don't get suckered into this... Go try the Armageddon books by Anthony DeCosmo( bad cover artworks but great story), the human chronicles by TR Harris, anything by Vaughn Heppner or BV Larson, Kelley Blake series by Rodney Smith, Exodus series by Robert Stadnik, Star Crusades series by Michael G Thomas, Spirit of Empire series by Lawrence P White, etc. There are way too many good ebooks that are reasonably priced to read before getting trapped by this "series".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2013
This is a great story, no doubt - I'm currently at #6 in the series. But they are much to short, and this review reflects all of them released so far. After #3 I really felt I had only read a short sample of a story, not a stand alone episode, and felt kind of tricked.

I have no objection with the series-format, dividing a story up into several smaller installations can be a great way to engage the audience. However with each episode being this short, it feels like you need to wait at least three or four episodes to get enough reading to counter the fragmentarized experience.

And with a total of 13 of them coming, this will be a rather expensive novel. With each episode at almost $4 each, the full novel will be a whopping $49.
(EDIT: As I understand it, in the US each ep is only .99$. Not here in Sweden though. With added VAT, they are exactly 3.75 each)

I can't help feeling the series format has just become a new way of increasing the price of the overall product.

This said, if you like Scalzis writing, and I do, and if you don't object to pricing and the length of the individual episodes, the overall story so far makes for a great read.

EDIT: After contacting Amazon they offered me a full refund, and I'll wait for the full novel in May. Hopefully not at $49...
EDIT2: And after having contacted them, they have lowered the price for us Swedes as well.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2013
This is a comment on the complete book The Human Division. The B-Team is a very good short story full of promise and hope, but be careful this is part of a thirteen chapter series. They aren't thirteen books, some are only twenty seven pages or so of written text. Together they are supposed to constitute a book. They fall far short of that. If read in total as a book this is the worst piece of work that John Scalzi has written, which is saying quite a lot. Some of what he has written is really good, but most of it is seriously bland and builds heavily on the work of other writers. It depends a great deal on the work on of other writers and there isn't any real evidence that he's done anything more than find a way to get readers to part with nearly thirteen dollars for a book that isn't worth two dollars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2013
I've been waiting for Scalzi to return to this world setting, and enjoy the story, but the pricing is a bit ridiculous.

This is on top of how ridiculous it is that ebooks are priced what they are to begin with, but serializing this story, if one was to do the simple math, will make this the most expensive short novella I've ever bought by a long shot by the time it's finished (note: subsequent chapters are much shorter, but priced the same).

I applaud he and the publisher for trying out different ways to deliver content, but I would not recommend this exact model again for future endeavors.

I hate to grade this story on the mode of delivery, but as that mode is kind of an integral part of this serialization experiment, I consider it fair game. I feel strongly enough about the issue that the two stars reflect that. Had The Human Division been released in its entirety (or, if you're looking for novel delivery methods, as part of a reasonably priced subscription as it was doled out in chapters), where I wasn't going to end up paying multiple times more than a normal novel, I'd likely give it 4 stars.

I realize that taken in a vacuum, the extra money spent on this story isn't going to make a difference in my finances, but it's the bigger picture worry of books going this route and the perfectly acceptable gradual increase in book prices taking an unacceptable jarring mammoth leap that impels me to leave this feedback.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 9, 2013
UPDATE: As of this writing (4/9/13), there is a plan to have a "coda" included in the hardcover version that expands the ending from chapter 13. Perhaps Tor Books will reconsider the decision and offer this to the Kindle and other ebook users. As of right now, it leaves me feeling like a bit of a sap for buying the book as a serial. Also, Scalzi has announced a "Season Two" for The Human Division, meaning that the unresolved nature of chapter 13 is actually a jumping off point for that season. I don't mind this in abstract. As you can see from my review I enjoyed this book. However, I think most readers thought they were buying 13 installments of a self-contained novel, not 13 chapters of part I.

Original (slightly modified) Review
Having now finished the "The Human Division" as a serial novel, I decided to write my review not of an individual chapter but of the entire work, both in how it works as a novel and as a serial.

First a brief primer. If you are unfamiliar with Scalzi's work, I wholeheartedly recommend starting with "Old Man's War". It is a rollicking science fiction adventure in the "Humans versus all of the other aliens in the universe" variety. It has been touted as the closest thing to a modern Heinlein novel, and I actually think that's pretty close to the mark. Scalzi's writing is fun, imaginative, and accessible. Read it now, if you haven't.

But most folks getting to this review are probably quite familiar with the Scalzi oeuvre. A brief non-spoiler background of this particular novel is that the humans are divided into factions, the Colonial Union, which has colonized space and made more than a few enemies, and the indigenous population of Earth, which, now that it knows the Colonial Union has kept it held in relative backwardness and used for exploration fodder, is firmly estranged, if not quite in the "enemies" camp. This novel follows the exploits of Colonial Defense Forces technical expert Lieutenant Harry Wilson, Colonial State Department Ambassador Ode Abumwe, and minor diplomatic functionary (as well as Wilson friend) Hart Schmidt. The group is a "B-Team" of not-the-best diplomats who nonetheless have a history of successful outside-the-box successes. This lands them in a series of events that increasingly point to conflict between the military forces of the Colonial Defense Union, the political forces of Earth, the alien union known as "Conclave" and a shadowy force that may be none of the above which appears to be manipulating events.

Regarding the "serial experience". I'll just say that if this novelist thing doesn't work for John Scalzi, he's got a great future ahead of him as a drug dealer. Releasing a chapter a week, starting with "The B-Team", was a highly addictive return to the "Old Man's War" universe. He managed to maintain an interesting overall narrative arc while simultaneously creating what amounted to 13 consecutive short stories. Each release, sold for only $0.99, seemed to be more self-contained than chapters in a novel would normally be. This was a great strength as the chapters were coming out, and I found myself looking forward to the weekly Tuesday release date with great anticipation. While the chapters varied in size and quality, at no point did I feel like I got less than a dollar's worth of entertainment.

{the following is very mildly spoiler-ish}
Unfortunately, that strength as a serial may have limited the ultimate effectiveness as a novel. In the later chapters, there was less than the usual sense of building to a culmination. As an example, in the penultimate chapter, a character who was introduced as a bit player in the last third of the novel suddenly gets a turn in the spotlight. Again, this chapter worked as a standalone story, but it felt out of sync with the expectation that the chapter should be setting up some sort of big finish. Likewise, a reader's knowledge of the main characters has remained fairly two dimensional. With one exception (again, which worked as a short story but felt disconnected from the larger narrative) we know little more about the main characters than when we started. We know Abumwe is from Nigeria, we know Schmidt is from a political family, and we know that Wilson is from Chicago. That's about it for character arc for the three main characters, other than that they bond though the crises. Again, for a novel, the whole was somewhat less than the sum of the parts.

Scalzi recently announced that there would be a "second season" for The Human Division. As I said above, I have no objection to this in principle. However, I would have liked to have known going in that I was just reading part I. Forewarned, I think I would have been happy to know that Scalzi has much more of this enjoyable story left to tell. As it was, I felt a bit misled. If one takes the view that there are 1 or 2 other Human Division novels, with attendant additional character development, then I at least partially retract what I said above. I still think the constraints of writing serially detract a bit from the finished product, but I still plan to follow the continued exploits of the no-so-B-after-all Team. I

So in the end, the ride _was_ great fun. I think a reader starting now would be advised a) it's the first book in a series of at least two, b) think of it more like a TV series in terms of story arc, not like a mini-series, and c) wait for the hardcover and get the additional "coda" that the serial customers will have to wait for. I would also say that, my complaints aside, I recommend the completed novel to anyone who liked Old Man's War.

Three Stars once it all gets averaged out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2013
Have you read the Old Man's War series?
[NO]>>> read that first
[YES]>>> continue

Did you LIKE the Old Man's War series?
[NO]>>> don't buy this
[YES]>>> continue

Do you have $1?
[NO]>>> seriously?
[YES]>>> continue

Would you pay $1 to read each chapter*(see note below) of a book you would probably like about as much as the Old Man's War series?
[NO]>>> don't start this series
[YES]>>> enjoy!

*Note: Each of these episodes is about as long as a chapter of a "real" book. The difference is that each episode has a small plot that fits into an overarching narrative (though some don't seem to fit until you buy the next episode)

Personally I think it is a little expensive at $1 per episode, yet I've already bought/read #1-10 and paid for episode #11 (not yet released as of the date of this review).
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