Zoë’s Tale by John Scalzi
Old Man’s War series #4
View book info on GoodReads
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
First Published: Jan. 30, 2016
Read from: Feb. 18, 2016
Ok… to Good… to Really, Really Good!
When I started this I didn’t realize it was basically a retelling of the previous book in the The Old Man’s War series, “The Last Colony”, only from the perspective of Zoë, the teenage daughter of the protagonist of most of the books. So I started off disappointed with this book. I checked some other people’s reviews just to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind and that, yes, I had indeed read this story before. There I discovered that besides the different perspective on the previous story there were some new things, and that much of it was… well, patching some of the parts of “The Last Colony” that had issues. So I took my time reading this, as I was not really “in” to it. I expected my disappointment would continue, and I considered giving the book the boot early on.
I’m REALLY glad I stuck with it.
As usual Scalzi’s writing, (mostly his snark but the hidden undercurrent of genuine emotion seen in the otherwise somewhat shallow characters,) started to win me over. Still much of the first 50% of the book was basically a retelling of previous material with a typical YA teen-girl hook. And as an old guy who had read the previous story there was nothing there to get me really invested in the story initially. But gradually the story began to enter unseen territory and the character’s deepened some and I started to like it…
And then in the finale, it moved to REALLY liked. The big character moment for Zoë near the end of her tale involves what seemed a big deus ex machina moment that bothered me about “The Last Colony”. But in addition to providing the details that were missing from that moment in the previous book, it does so in a way that I LOVED and was incredibly powerful both in plot, in character development, and had a huge emotional punch.
So the end result is that averaging all these things I felt while reading this book, I liked “Zoë’s Tale” a HAIR more than “The Last Colony” that it first seemed to merely retell. It’s a pity Scalzi couldn’t have found some way to elegantly merge these two stories into one novel. On second thought maybe that is unfair as they are different stories from different perspectives, each with something different to say underneath.