Book Review: Old Man's War
Author: John Scalzi
Series: Old Man's War (Book #1)
Length: 355 pages
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: ★★★★★
Old Man's War was the third of John Scalzi's novels I have read. I decided to try out this series after reading Lock In and The Android's Dream, both of which I really enjoyed, but did not love. While I enjoyed the science, plot, and cleverness aspects of both, I did not connect well with the characters. Old Man's War was the first Scalzi book that I've read where I loved the characters, which is why I rated this 5 stars. It is the complete package for me: interesting premise, well-thought-out science, characters that are worth caring about, and lots of action.
This series opens on John Perry's 75th birthday. He begins his day by going to visit his wife's grave, then promptly goes to a recruitment office to enlist in the Colonial Defense Force (CDF). At age 75, Perry joins the military and is whisked off to start a brand new adventure. With very little knowledge of what the CDF actually does, he and many other 75 year olds start their journey together in the space.
One thing that I really love about this novel is that Scalzi takes his time introducing you to this world, the characters in it, and the technology. Whilst getting to know John and why he decided to enlist, you also get to know a slew of other characters, whom will lovingly be referred to as the "old farts" crew. Since everyone on the ship is 75 or older, you can imagine that the banter that occurs is just hilarious. I could only think of hanging out with my grandparents and having them be on a cruise with a bunch of other people their age. No one is afraid to speak their mind and everyone is joking around or speculating about what is about to happen. I absolutely loved it and I thought Scalzi nailed the demographic perfectly. By the time you find out what the whole deal is with the CDF, you care immensely about the all the old farts and what they are about to go through.
Besides having great characters, this book/series also has amazing scientific elements to it. You may be thinking, how does a 75 year old person fight in a war? Well... they have found a way and it is really clever. Also, have I mentioned yet that humanity has also figured out interstellar travel? The CDF's main objective is to find suitable planets to start new colonies so that humans can continue life after Earth is no longer an option. As we find out, there are many other alien species who also are trying to do the same thing and so, the universe has become a very dangerous place to settle.
Obviously at some point, we follow John as he begins life as a soldier, participating in the fights over appropriate colonial spaces. The battles are extremely interesting and were very stressful at times, especially because I had an attachment to all of the characters. Each battle is very unique and didn't feel repetitive, which is a problem that I've encountered before with other war/military type books.
All in all this was definitely my favorite John Scalzi book to date and I'm so happy it is a fairly lengthy series because I want to spend a lot more time with these characters.
What is your favorite Science Fiction novel or series?