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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Ghost Brigades

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
Reason for Reading: For Fun (Imagine That)
Rating: 4/5

Summarize the plot: Charles Boutin is a traitor to the human race and thanks to him humanity is on the verge of invasion by a powerful coalition of alien races. But the Special Forces have one way to try and find him. Boutin found a way to create a back up of his consciousness, and in his haste, he left it behind. Drop the consciousness into one of the Ghost Brigade bodies, and there's a chance of discovering why he did what he did. Except when Jared Dirac wakes up with Boutin's consciousness, he doesn't remember anything at first. But when the memories start coming, can he figure everything out in time?

1-sentence review: Another great entry into the Old Man's War universe.

Longer review: A mix of Scalzi's usual kick-ass adventure and thought-provoking science fiction. Although Scalzi's strength is usually not charactization, I really, really liked Jared Dirac. Like he might be my new favorite character from the series. We were introduced to the Special Forces, AKA, Ghost Brigades in Old Man's War, but in this book we get to be totally immersed in their world. Jared is not only a special breed because he is part of the Special Forces, but he has to deal with the confusion of having someone else's consciousness implanted into him. He was created with the purpose of finding Charles Boutin, and everyone hovers over him, unsure whether he's going to snap someday. And despite all of that, Jared evolves into his own person, sometimes incredibly naive, but always trying to do the best thing. He's very different from the older, wiser, and wise-cracking John Perry of the first novel. I think a highlight of the novel is the way Jared moves from being a confused newborn to an experienced soldier willing to sacrifice to save his friends.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this novel is that Charles Boutin's motives for what he did are kept very secret until the end, and even then, he isn't painted as a complete villain. Scalzi allows for some gray areas, which I already know (since I read these books out of order) will be even more fully developed in The Last Colony. The Colonial Defense Forces keep the human colonies alive, but we begin to question their methods.

Reading this book illuminated a few final details that didn't quite fit when I skipped from book one to three, and I think I might like it even more than The Last Colony. The character of Jared Dirac goes a long way towards making it a favorite.

Should I read it? If you liked Old Man's War, don't skip over this one. It's worth your time.

Other opinions:
Becky, Medieval Bookworm, True Science Fiction


Nymeth said...

I really need to continue with this series. Too bad there's another million books I also need to read. Sigh :P

Alice Teh said...

I've not read this series yet but it sure is interesting.