Monday, March 7, 2011

Old Man's War

Title: Old Man's War
Author: John Scalzi
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: 2005

Recommendation: Anyone who loves character-driven books has got to love Old Man's War.
Rating: 8.5/10

Summary: John Perry is 75. His wife has been dead for many years and the advances in medicine still don't know how to solve the problem of aging. However Colonial Defence Forces (CDF) recruit the elderly with the promise of being young again in exchange for 10 years of service. With nothing left to lose, John Perry joins up and begins his exploration of the universe beyond Earth.

Reactions: I knew I was going to enjoy this book a whole lot before I even finished chapter 1. John Perry is developed as the protagonist from the very beginning and it didn't take me very long to start liking him a whole lot.

There are a number of excellent wryly humorous scenes that I really enjoyed in the book. Here's a short excerpt of one that happens at the very start of the book when John comes to enlist.
"You're John Perry," she said.
"That's me. How did you guess?"
She looked back to her computer. "Most people who want to enlist come in on their birthday, even though they have thirty days afterward to formally enlist. We only have three birthdays today. Mary Valory already called to say she won't be going. And you don't look like you'd be Cynthia Smith."
"I'm gratified to hear that," I said.
"And since you're not coming in for an initial sign-up," she continued, ignoring yet another stab at humor, "it stands to reason you're John Perry."
"I could just be a lonely old man wandering around looking for conversation," I said.
The scene continues with John's attempts at humor getting repelled in the most deadpan fashion. And the book itself continues to have a number of other enjoyable scenes with witty dialogue that I appreciated a lot. About half way through the book, I got pretty convinced that I've really been missing out on John Scalzi.

While the book was almost perfect for the first half, I found myself somewhat less enthusiastic about the second half of the book. Partially, I felt there were some holes in reasoning when it came to the scientific explanations and partially I didn't really care for the part of the plot Scalzi decided to emphasize. At the end, the book ending didn't quite have the bang I was hoping for.

Still, I enjoyed the characters in the book very much. I liked the touching moments between friends and the strongly rooted common sense of the main protagonist. The writing was smooth and witty and this was an altogether enjoyable read.

I learned that there is also a sequel which may be the answer to my need for closure in this book. I will most certainly be reading more novels by John Scalzi.

1 comment:

  1. You definitely need to keep reading. The second book explores one of the characters in OMW and then brings things back around to sort of wrap up this story. The third book closes things out...and then he wrote a YA novel, Zoe's Tale, retelling the events of the third book through a teenage character that actually sheds more light on the events that happened. The series as a whole is really excellent.