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Foolish I was, to believe that I would read this book super quickly. Zoe’s Tale is a parallel story to Scalzi’s previous novel in the Old Man’s War universe, The Last Colony. We go through the experience of the Roanoke colony, but this time from Zoe’s perspective. I thought this meant I could shoot through the story and move on to the next book on my list for the year.
But it was just too good for that. Parallel it is, but the Zoe Boutin-Perry’s experience is wholly separate from her parents’. It’s surprising how little John Perry is involved in this story. The book stands on its own legs and earned my full reading attention, which meant that I took way too long to read it. The library late fees are racking up as I type this post. You, dear average-paced reader instead of a slow-like-me reader, may not have such difficulties because it’s still a typical length and light effort.
I must admit that I was also hesitant that it would be too much of the Young Adult genre for me. Teenage relationships don’t really catch my interest, and it is a vital part of the book. But the YA and Sci-Fi are balanced well. At least well enough that I didn’t skip anything.
Most importantly the novel does a couple important things that were missed in The Last Colony.
The ending feels thought-out, full, and true to the narrative.
The colony felt a lot more like a community, less like a group of people being lead by rock star protagonists
From Scalzi’s appendix it sounded like a lot of Zoe’s Tale’s story was developed for The Last Colony and was cut. It covers so many gaps that I wasn’t shocked to learn that. It does make me wonder what The Last Colony could’ve been had it been 150 pages longer and included this material. I’d read it.
Another great episode in a universe I’ve come to love. The remainder of the Old Man’s War books are on my list, but I’m pretty far behind so it may be a bit yet before I read more from Mr. Scalzi.
Last night I gave a short talk at the WordPress Louisville meetup. The idea of child themes had been mentioned tangentially during other talks, but I thought I’d explain them head-on for a few minutes. My slides (including the couple videos) are in the Cloudup stream below, along with a few links.