27 May, 2013

Review - The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War #2) by John Scalzi

Warning: Spoilers for Old Man's War (review) book one in the Old Man's War sequence.

A secret is discovered and war is looming. Former enemies are allied against the Colonial Union and it's up to the Special Forces, the Ghost Brigades, to stop them. They only take the dirtiest jobs and this is no exception.

The Ghost Brigades [US] [UK] deals almost exclusively with the Special Forces who have been nicknamed the Ghost Brigades on account of their entire Forces using the bodies of people who did not enter the military, but for whom a clone body was created, for new consciences.

Two things stand out right away. One, there's no first-person narrative here and two, John Perry (our protagonist from OMW) is nowhere in sight. In fact, he's mentioned in passing about once or twice, but that's it.

Other than that, The Ghost Brigades is a typical Scalzi effort - a fast pace, some witty (and non-witty) banter, and cool concepts that keep the pages turning.

The Ghost Brigades is definitely a step down from Old Man's War. OMW really hit the spot when I read it a number of years ago, the surprise at what these elderly folks were getting themselves into when they signed up for the military at the end of their lives was a great one and the action was non-stop for the rest of the book.

Here, things felt a little more forced, even though I had a good time reading from start to finish. I enjoyed it, but there were a few things that niggled where that didn't happen before (one instance is the "why don't we go up in the trees" plan if you can call it that). I'll admit it's been a few years (and a few kids) so it could also very much be me.

Some of the banter, as I mentioned above, was also a bit awkward this time instead of remotely funny. There's a part toward the end where they "don't" talk about secretive matters that just made my eyes roll. Too many eye rolls begins to make those stars start shedding.

Although it sounds bad, I really did enjoy The Ghost Brigades and I'm looking forward to The Last Colony. It's fun and exciting and hard to put down even, there were just some parts that put this below OMW even though the rest of the book was on par.

3.5 out of 5 Stars (recommended)

Note: I make fun of a quote on the back of this book that really makes no sense here.

Old Man's War Universe (Read in red)
1) Old Man's War (review - if you can call it that)
2) The Ghost Brigades
3) The Last Colony
Zoe's Tale
The Human Division

The Sagan Diary ($2.99)
Questions for a Soldier ($0.99)
After the Coup ($0.99)


Carl V. Anderson said...

Nice review. It has been so long since I've read it that I cannot really put much coherent into the conversation other than to say that I really enjoy the book. OMW remains my favorite Scalzi, but I don't remember finding this as big a step down as you did. But again, tastes vary and my recollections are from several years past. If you can, track down the free online version of The Sagan Diary before reading The Last Colony. It is very short and fits between these two novels and I think it adds a lot to the John/Jane relationship.

Bryce L. said...

Good to know, thanks for the heads up about the Sagan Diary. And I wouldn't say I thought TGB was all that big of a step down, because it was for the most part on par with OMW. I think the newness of OMW really got me, everything was interesting and exciting where as this was more of the same, which is a good thing.

Carl V. Anderson said...

I can definitely see that. Here is The Sagan Diary link:


Bryce L. said...

Thanks a ton for the link, Carl!