The reviews online for this book aren’t great, and frankly they’re right. The plot is predictable, and there isn’t much character development. Just lots and lots of blow-by-blow combat. It gets wearing after a while, and I found this book at bit of a slog. Not recommended.
As someone who doesn’t play computer games and has never played a Halo game, I find myself in the strange position of having read a Halo book. This book is the first in the chronological lineage, and explains the history of the Spartan program which produced the Master Chief. I decided to read this after accidentally watching a Halo mini-movie on Netflix with a sick baby, and deciding it wasn’t totally terrible.
The book is actually ok to my surprise. Its competently written, and on par with much of the other combat fiction I’ve read. It certainly doesn’t feel like its a tie in to a game. I would have liked this book to cover more of the moral issues around the back story to the Spartan program, but those were only briefly considered. Then again, I like a good shoot ’em up as much as the next guy and perhaps that would have been too boring. Overall I enjoyed it and think I might have to read more in this universe.
I don’t read as much as I should these days, but one author I always make time for is John Scalzi. This is the next book in the Old Man’s War universe, and it continues from where The Human Division ended on a cliff hanger. So, let’s get that out of the way — ending a book on a cliff hanger is a dick move and John is a bad bad man. Then again I really enjoyed The Human Division, so I will probably forgive him.
I don’t think this book is as good as The Human Division, but its a solid book. I enjoyed reading it and it wasn’t a chore like some books this far into a universe can be (I’m looking at you, Asimov share cropped books). The conclusion to the story arc is sensible, and not something I would have predicted, so overall I’m going to put this book on my mental list of the very many non-terrible Scalzi books.
I originally read this as a series of short stories released on the kindle, but the paperback collation of those has been out for a while and deserved a read. These stories are classic Scalzi, and read well. If you like the Old Man’s War universe you will like this book. The chapters of the book are free standing because of how they were originally written, and that makes the book a bit disjointed. The cliff hanger at the end is also pretty annoying given the next book hasn’t been released.
So, an interesting experiment that perhaps isn’t perfect, but is well worth the read.
The second time around I think my opinion has changed a little. I found the plot a little hard to believe (perhaps I am scarred by other book’s twee explorations of the motivations of alien species), and overall the book not as good as Old Man’s War. Then again, its far from the worst book I have read this year.
[award: nominee prometheus 2007]
I sympathize with the other LibraryThing reviewer who had trouble finding characters to like in this novel. This book isn’t very long, but took me ages to read because the main character is so whiney. The whole story seems to revolve around how he’s never happy, and that didn’t work for me. I think the underlying ideas are interesting, but I just hated Julius so much that I didn’t enjoy the book.
There is an interesting reference to Snow Crash on page 97 though.
[award: nominee nebula 2004]
All of the Old Men’s War books (Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades) have started slowly and built up to a climax. That’s been good because its given some time for background which makes the second phase of the book all the more fully formed. This book is the same, although I think the introduction is more long winded than previously, and the whole thing gets wrapped up surprisingly quickly. Overall a good book, but not as good as the previous two.
This book is a really good sequel, and just as good as Old Man’s War. While some of the characters reappear, the story stands on its own and is quite entertaining. I enjoyed this book a lot. There’s something about bright green genetically engineered super soldiers killing aliens that makes me happy.
[award: nominee prometheus 2007]
I’ve owned this book for a while, and now really regret not reading it the second it hit my shelves. Its amazingly good for a first book, and is definitely as good as The Forever War and Forever Peace, and better than Starship Troopers. I’m very very impressed with it. An excellent book if you’re into combat scifi.
Update 2011: I’ve been in a rut recently where I haven’t really been enjoying the books I’ve been reading. The number of books I read has also dropped off a lot since I moved back to Australia. Some of the drop off is associated with living in a house instead of an apartment — there is constant maintenance work to be done, and I might never finish painting this place. However, I was worried that perhaps I simply wasn’t as into reading as I was a couple of years ago. So, I decided to go back and read a book I enjoyed before, and see if I still liked it. This was that book.
The answer is hells yes. This book is still fantastic, and I really enjoyed it. I also knocked it over in a time similar to when I was in the US. So, its not me that’s broken — its the books I’m reading. I need to find more books to be enthused about, instead of letting reading be a chore.