Review: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

This book is part of the Literary Escapism blog’s 2014 New Author Challenge, Anne & Kristilyn’s Book Bingo Challenge as well as the Bookish blog’s TBR Pile Challenge.

This is the first book I’ve read this year for my new author challenge!

old-mans-warOld Man’s War
by John Scalzi
Series: Old Man’s War series, Book 1
Genre: Military Science Fiction, Space Opera
Published by Tor, 2007
E-book, Purchased
362 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce– and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine–and what he will become is far stranger.

 “…Part of what makes us human is what we mean to other people, and what people mean to us. I miss meaning something to someone, having that part of being human. That’s what I miss about marriage.”

What worked for me:

  • Lots of action
  • The concept is interesting–taking humans off Earth when they’re 75 years old to turn them into soldiers…the fact that the life you’ve led, your life learning are useful to an army. On the other hand, your preconceived notions just might get you killed very quickly!
  • The 75 year olds take a leap of faith that their life is going to be better in the colonies.
  • What keeps people human? John Perry asks that question during the book. I like the things he thinks about, the things he asks.
  • The battles the army fights are brutal and sometimes seem unnecessary. The politics, the battles, morality of war, the individual soldiers are all part of what makes this book a good read for me.
  • The book is realistic about how many people die in a war.
  • The book has been compared to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers which I can understand.

What didn’t work:

  • Part one is a little slow
  • I feel removed from most of the characters except John Perry. This is partly because the book is written in first person and we spend a lot of time in John’s head.

My thoughts:

I liked the book a lot and bought the second book in the series–The Ghost Brigade. Even though there are things which didn’t work for me I look forward to the next book and I hope I relate more to characters besides John.

Have you read this book or something else by John Scalzi? Do you enjoy military science fiction?

Author: Jan

I love to read--especially mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. I also love blogging, photography, gardening, playing Mah Jonng, reading with a cat on my lap, throwing a ball for a dog, creating cards to send to family and friends, reading book blogs, using my computer.