April 21st, 2013

Book with cat 4

Books #16 and #17: Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades

Now and then I don't want to review a book. It's not that the book is bad, just the opposite: it's that it's so good I know I can't do it justice.

Book #16: Old Man's War by John Scalzi.
Book #17: The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi.

On Old Man's War, quote from Amazon summary:
John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.

How could a 75 year old man join the army? Though this book takes place in the future, lifespans are no longer than they are today. Not everyone lives to 75. The ones who do are not exactly military material. So how does it work?

I can't tell you. That's the problem with any review of this book -- everything is a spoiler. And it's so very great.

Every page I was going "That's SO cool!" and "Why can't we have that tech now?" and "I want to do that, too!". No exaggeration, I was grinning from ear to ear for the whole first half of the book. Great, scifi-ish ideas, so much fun. Great characters I fell in love with. I loved every idea in the book. I know "Thistle loves everything in the book!" doesn't help you know much about it, but the problem is, the fun is in discovering everything. For a book like The Last Free Cat, I don't worry much about spoilers; you shouldn't read that book, you'll be unhappy if you do. But for Old Man's War? I don't want to spoil anyone on a single detail.

The first half of Old Man's War was magically delicious. Book-magic. I-don't-know-how-someone-wrote-a-book-this-good-magic. The characters were so believable (I laughed out loud at one point because a character reacted so perfectly humanly). The second half of the book was outstandingly amazingly great, but it was the first half of the book that introduced the tech, characters, and worlds, which out-shined all else. The second half started the heavier plot, which was great as well, but it wasn't the magic of everything being shiny and new.

The Ghost Brigades could seem a cliche title, but it fits the book (and the troops named that) perfectly. Again I don't want to spoil, so you'll have to trust me on that. It's not cliche in the least.

While Old Man's War focused on one type of solder, Ghost Brigades focused on the special forces. After seeing them through the eyes of the first type of soldiers, it was fascinating to learn the truth. The sad truth, in many cases.

I feel like a broken record, but the writing was amazing. I loved how easily sarcasm came through in the text (no need for sarcasm tags!). I loved how foreshadowing was scattered through the books -- that's one of the advantages of reading them so fast, I hadn't forgotten things from the first book that foreshadowed happenings in the second. Little details that made the whole story richer and the book's setting more realistic.

Luckily there are two more books to read in the series! It's a good thing work will force me to slow down, because my eyes cannot keep up with this pace of reading. I'm dying to start the third one, but I'm letting my ipad charge while I give my eyes a rest.

Anyway! If you read one book this year, you should read more books! And make sure to include Old Man's War on your list!

(I have a 'cat in space reading a book' icon on order. Wish I had it already, it would have been perfect for this post!)