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Customer Review

on October 12, 2012
Interesting but not engaging

Facile but not funny.

I heard John Scalzi read an excerpt from this book, at Worldcon, before it was published. I have read 7 previous novels by John Scalzi and I loved 6 of them and liked the 7th. His reading at Worldcon sounded like it had potential, so frankly, I was hoping for more. But now that I have read the novel, it seems to me, that he got off on the wrong foot starting with the 'Prologue,' which really had no good reason for existing, and then he remained entirely too cerebral and 'conscious' through the rest of the book. Darn it. He is known for his characters, but it turned out that his characters were mostly flat, and the most engrossing part for me was actually found in 2 of the 3 Codas added to the end of the book. Yet even these would actually have been better done if they had been woven into the rest of the novel.

This book is one of those 'fun' ideas that people come up with, that would have been better off left alone. It has been done before, and done better, in both written and video form. It is the stuff of comedians, "You, unnamed crewman, look behind that rock." There was some mildly entertaining existential content and a perhaps more interesting hint at an extension of the concept of the Anthropomorphic Universe, but that part wasn't really pursued.

All in all, I felt that this book was mostly a waste of my time, and I NEVER thought I would say that about a John Scalzi book. Now that it is over, I wish he had skipped it and gone on to its sequel. Now THAT would probably have been an enthralling book. I look forward to it, alas, probably in vain.

ADDENDUM: Reading some of the other reviews, I note that some people like the 'Codas' but others don't. Personally, I think that the first Coda of the 3 was really very poor, and totally uninteresting. The other two were much more interesting and meaningful to me, and I do recommend them, but, as I suggested above, if the Codas are really of value, then they should have been written into the novel itself. And if they are not of sufficient value, then they should have been left out. It makes me wonder whether John Scalzi is just getting lazy, or if he was trying out (and failing at) some experimental technique in this book.
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