The final novel in the Old Man’s War series demonstrates just how brilliant a writer John Scalzi is. Zoe’s Tale retells the events of the previous book in the series, The Last Colony, from a completely different point of view. Something that when done badly can bore the hell at of you but when done this well is close to genius.
John Perry and Jane Sagan anchored the three previous novels. Zoe is their adopted daughter and featured heavily in The Last Colony but in retelling the story from her point of vie not only does Scalzi give everything a fresh perspective but the voice he captures in the character changes the whole feel of the story.
The Last Colony was a political thriller full of tension, action and knife-edge diplomacy. Zoe’s Tale is a coming of age story. It is about a teenager discovering the world is a much bigger place that she realised and that she must find her place in it. Add that story to a huge universe with multiple human colonies as well as alien species and I guarantee you haven’t read a book like this before.
Scalzi really nails the perspective of a teenager and while the overarching storyline is already known he still manges to pull a host of twists and surprises. He does this because what matters to Zoe is different to what mattered to John Perry and while there is still some overlap this difference shifts the whole balance of the story. Both stories are great but for different reasons and for a writer to tell the same story in two distinctive ways and have both be equally entertaining, to me, is true talent.
John Scalzi is a brilliant storyteller. He is brilliant because not only can he naturally tell a great story but he also thoroughly understands the nuts and bolts of storytelling. Redshirts and Zoe’s Tale both thoroughly demonstrate this genius and if you dismiss his work because of its genre then you are missing out on a truly remarkable writer.
Classification: Science fiction
Format: Paperback / softback (172mm x 107mm x 27mm)
Imprint: Tor Books
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Country of Publication: United States