Review: The Last Colony

26 06 2008

I just finished John Scalzi’s The Last Colony, another of the five Hugo-nominated books.

The Last Colony is the third in the series series. I read the first one, Old Man’s War, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s about John Perry, a 75-year old man from earth who joins the Colonial Defense Force to help protect humanity, and finds that the universe is full of all sorts of adventure, most of which is trying to kill him. There’s a second book in the series, The Ghost Brigades, of which I’ve read only the first few chapters on google books.

I found it to be an endearing family story. It about John Perry finding a satisfying conclusion. He is able to build a family and, while not figure out what he wanted in life, gain some amount of closure. The story itself is exciting, having shades of David Brin’s Uplift series mixed with Allen Steele’s Coyote. There are a number of really well written character interactions. It was a fun book to read, and gave me a good, warm feeling at the end.

Of course, it’s not perfect. Without reading Old Man’s War (which is necessary) or The Ghost Brigades (which is less necessary), the book is difficult to get into. A lot of the beginning conditions of the book were already set up, and a lot of character development is glossed over. I think there are various plot elements that have potential to be very exciting but aren’t explored enough. Deeper moral questions could have been explored, but they are instead set aside. I think it could have been easily 100 pages longer in which some of the exposition could be fleshed out into actual story, and a few of the subplots taken further.

I definitely recommend reading Scalzi’s books. He’s a good writer who tells good stories about interesting people. I don’t know how The Last Colony stands up to the rest of the Hugo books yet but I’ll let you know in a week. It’s definitely a very different book than Chabon’s Yiddish Policemen’s Union.

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