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Zoe's Tale: An Old Man's War Novel Mass Market Paperback – April 28, 2009
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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Half of my enjoyment of sci-fi revolves around plotting. So for Zoe's Tale, half of my interest was dissipated from the get-go. I had *just* read The Last Colony, so everything was quite fresh in my mind. If I'd had a year or two between the two readings, my feelings about this book would be different. I understand I could have probably just read the jacket blurb and saved myself some trouble; that was my mistake.
As for the other half of what I enjoy in a science fiction novel (writing technique, etc etc), IMO the protagonist sounds like a fifty-year old man pretending to be an extremely intelligent 16 year-old girl. I know that sounds a little harsh, but I think Mr Scalzi just plainly missed the mark he set for himself. The bantery style of interaction Zoe has with the people around her was fun and funny, until it became tedious. I like my witty banter in sips, I guess, not chugs.
Bottom line, if you like the Old Man's War universe, and if you haven't read The Last Colony in awhile, you should enjoy this book. If you try to inhale the series like I have, this book will probably be a disappointment.
Now I have to go over and give a belated 5 stars to Old Man's War to balance my karma.
Since we already know the story and how it unfolds, this book would only work if Scalzi was able to get us far enough inside the character that we learn something remarkably new about the story through her, or something remarkable about her. And he doesn't. Part of this is due to the fact that Zoe is a teenage girl, something Scalzi is not and never was, and despite his claim that women helped him get the voice right, it doesn't ring true. Of course, I was never a teenage girl either, but it's hard for me to believe that a teenage girl would just HAPPEN to sound so much like the other main characters that Scalzi has created. Noble, sarcastic, loyal, resourceful.. she seems like one of his soldiers with a boyfriend.
Besides that, too much telling, not enough showing, a common problem with this author and the genre in general, but it's more of a issue this time since we already know what we are going to be told.
Save your money.
Zoe's Tale try to mine milk from that, failing spectacularly.
This adds nothing new to the story, Zoë is most of the time alienated about what happens around her, thinking only on her friends and boyfriend.
I do feel a little cheated here, I was expecting to see more on what happened in the Conclave and between her and the Consu, we got a last chapter with a little bit of it like an afterthought from the author.
I strongly suggest that people skip this book, I'll read the last 2 books, and other books by John Scalzi, this one must just be his worse work. (less)
Here she is. You learn the backstory first. This young girl has some reason to be jaded or suffering from a sense of victimhood, but is happy and well adjusted to life with her odd parents. Dad is an ancient American, but not as ancient by a few hundred years as he needs to be for this story. Formerly a modern warrior himself he would be capable of wiping out the entire colony personally. Her mom is an artificially created human who sprang full grown into life as an elite warrior, capable of laying low entire Seal teams and dad. How does Scalzi make them loving and caring parents modeled from the days of Leave It To Beaver? I don't know. He sort of slips into it in his previous books, but it makes sense in Scalzi's Old Man's War series is as curious a blend of political corruption and idealism triumphant as you would ever read and believe. These people belong in that universe as he pulls that off again. They all must be from Iowa. And the two alien bodyguards? Bodyguards who would easily kill everyone she knows, including her mother, to keep her from any harm and are the representatives of a powerful alien race that worships her. The threat of displeasing her keeps them in line, barely. Now, you may wonder how any adventure could come to a girl surrounded by such an array as this. You don't know teenage girls.
From a teenage girl's point of view of her life on the Last Colony of Roanoke you have: intelligent and dangerous pet alien monsters, slobbery dog, benign neglectful parents with just the right touch of mature wisdom, boys, girls, boys and girls again, politics, an alien planet complete with more aliens, and one other revered meta, keeping important secrets from the adults. You have to love that last one, from Tom Sawyer to Harry Potter, untold secrets are where the drama is.
There's a story for you. Yet you still believe she is just your average middle class 1960's midwestern American girl with an iPad.
She is immediately thrust into an adventure from her agraian life right into the rigors of colonizing an alien planet. Typical of a teenage girl, she discovers the terrible secret of the the mission before her parents, the leaders of the colony. Not by much, but a coup none the less that begins the story of how she and her friends are working their way to the same conclusion of the story as her parents and the rest of the colonists. The story is about her, her female and male friends and how life with the powerless develops parallel to the powers-that-be. She eventually becomes the story and the proud progeny of her parents. Although she's not, really. You may not notice that until you think about it.
She is believable to me in the context of the story, There are some jerks and stops as the story gets started, but then Scalzi has to make this work and he does.
Zoe is sort of like a midwestern Podkayne. The similarities between the two jumped out at me as I started this book. Not that the stories are anything alike other than teenage girl heroines written by male writers. But I think she is the teenage girl men who like women think of, when they are not designing killer aliens and enhanced humans with neat hardware to deal with them.
Definitely worth the read and completes The Lost Colony nicely.