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Zoe's Tale (Old Man's War) Hardcover – August 19, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 412 customer reviews
Book 4 of 6 in the Old Man's War Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the touching fourth novel set in the Old Man's War universe, Scalzi revisits the events of 2007's The Last Colony from the perspective of Zoë, adopted daughter of previous protagonists Jane Sagan and John Perry. Jane and John are drafted to help found the new human colony of Roanoke, struggling against a manipulative and deceitful homeworld government, native werewolf-like creatures and a league of aliens intent on preventing all space expansion and willing to eradicate the colony if needed. Meanwhile, teenage Zoë focuses more on her poetic boyfriend, Enzo; her sarcastic best friend, Gretchen; and her bodyguards, a pair of aliens from a race called the Obin who worship and protect Zoë because of a scientific breakthrough made by her late biological father. Readers of the previous books will find this mostly a rehash, but engaging character development and Scalzi's sharp ear for dialogue will draw in new readers, particularly young adults. (Aug.)
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From Booklist

At the close of the widely admired Old Man’s War trilogy, Scalzi hinted he would take a long break from his saga of seniors rejuvenated for interstellar battle. But reader demand has extracted one more installment. Zoe Boutin Perry is the adopted daughter of John Perry and Jane Sagan, heroes of the first and third installments (Old Man’s War, 2004; The Last Colony, 2007). Complicating her life as an otherwise ordinary, wisecracking 15-year-old is her status as a venerated idol of the Obin, an alien race who owe their self-awareness to an invention of Zoe’s late biological father. Accompanied everywhere by her overprotective Obin bodyguards, Hickory and Dickory, Zoe quickly realizes how critical the Obin are to her family’s survival when the Colonial Defense Force overseeing the Perrys’ colonization of a new world underhandedly pits them against a murderous alliance of alien races. Scalzi takes a calculated risk in adopting Zoe’s adolescent viewpoint, but it pays off in a captivating story. --Carl Hays

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Product Details

  • Series: Old Man's War
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (August 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765316986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765316981
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (412 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Clan Lindsey VINE VOICE on August 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Let me first say that I think John Scalzi is a wonderful writer. I read Old Man's War when it first came out and enjoyed it very much. Earlier this month I noted he had penned a few sequels and I decided to give them a go. In preparation for doing so I actually re-read Old Man's War and, surprisingly, I enjoyed it even more the second time around. I can say unhesitatingly that I feel that Old Man's War, The Ghost Brigades, and the Last Colony are all wonderful five star reads that evoke the best from the golden age of science fiction and yet are distinctly modern in their presentation.

Scalzi writes in a deceptively easy and smooth style and you glide silkily from one page to the next. His writing is leavened with liberal humor and spiced with adrenalin-fueled action scenes making for a thoroughly enjoyable treat. Many people have compared him to Robert Heinlein...I would go even farther. Scalzi could easily be Heinlein's clone when it comes to writing. Their styles are that similar. This is a good thing though, a grand thing, and I am so pleased that Scalzi is writing the books he is.

But...I have to say I was disappointed with Zoe's Tale in several ways. This is entirely my fault as I was so very excited to get a fourth installment in this series that I did not bother to read the publisher's blurb on the Amazon page. The fact I didn't do so is actually a form of homage to Scalzi because I have already decided that anything he writes is worthy of reading so I didn't really feel like I had to check out the plot first. Zoe's Tale simply retells the story of The Last Colony from the perspective of Zoe, a young teenaged girl.
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Format: Hardcover
Frankly, this book is a little disappointing. It's the 4th book in Scalzi's "Old Man's War" universe - this time a retelling of the immediately preceding book, "The Last Colony," retold from the perspective of Zoe, the adopted daughter of the hero, John Perry, from "Old Man's War" (and the biological daughter of the human race's greatest traitor). If this book had truly been a stand alone book, I would have been hard pressed to have given it 2 stars. However, because it does add a little depth to the "Old Man's War" universe and is written in Scalzi's easygoing style, I gave it 1 more star (for a total of 3). As Scalzi himself notes, this storytelling approach is similar to Orson Scott Card's treatment of the Ender series ("Ender's Game") in "Ender's Shadow." It doesn't work quite so well for me for two reasons: (1) unlike "Ender's Shadow," which was written almost 15 years after "Ender's Game," this is a retelling of the last book I read by Scalzi less than 2 years ago - I felt like I had already read this story; and (2) Scalzi just isn't Orson Scott Card (at least not yet), so he doesn't quite pull this approach off - it just doesn't seem as fresh, interesting, or add enough to justify me spending the time re-reading the tale told in "The Last Colony."

If you really like the "Old Man's War" universe, you'll enjoy this book, but don't expect a masterpiece. Frankly, I wish I had waited a few more years before reading this book (after "The Last Colony" had begun to fade from my memory). For those interested in a great book/universe to delve into, though, start with "Old Man's War" and "The Ghost Brigades". Great books.
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Format: Hardcover
The hard core sci-fi cover might make you think otherwise, but Zoe's Tale is chiefly an empowering yet sweet coming of age story about 17 year old Zoe, both player and pawn in a complex interstellar battle between the Colonial Union (the human alliance) and the Conclave (an alliance of roughly 400 alien species). If you've read The Last Colony, I guess you probably know how it all turns out since this is apparently a novel with a parallel timeline told from a different perspective. If you haven't, no matter, as this exciting tale can stand on its own.

Zoe, her adopted parents, her two alien bodyguards and about 2000 settlers from 10 different human colonies are sent off by the Colonial Union to colonize a new planet called Roanoke (and anyone who knows American history will appreciate the irony of the name). As it turns out, the Colonial Union has plans that don't have the best interests of the colonists at heart. But fortunately, Zoe is not the type of girl who goes down without fight, especially when the lives of her parents, her new best friend Gretchen (with whom she has a great sarcastic rapport) and her new boyfriend Enzo's lives are at stake.

I like sci-fi, but I've never been big on books where alien races make up a big part of the narrative because of all the exposition you normally have to slog through. Author John Scalzi is wise to keep this to a minimum and the aliens he does introduce even manage to be entertaining (picture big spider like creatures at a hoedown and try not to laugh). Don't let the star trek like premise turn you off, because Zoe, an ordinary teenage girl asked to be extraordinary, is worth getting to know. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Although this isn't a YA novel, Publisher Tor is actively courting the teen market. And with a heroine as appealing and strong as Zoe, I think they just might succeed.

See more of my reviews at presentinglenore.blogspot.com
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