Synopsis (from goodreads):
John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.
The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce– and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.
Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.
John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine–and what he will become is far stranger.
Old Man’s War starts off with an interesting premise: a military that is so mysterious that even it’s enlistees have no idea what they are truly signing up for, even though they are all at retirement age. From it’s start, this book had me intrigued.
I enjoyed the world that Scalzi set up. He creates a science fiction future that seems plausible. The “science” speak doesn’t drone on for too long, and allows readers new to the genre to get a feel for those elements. As this is a multiple book series, there is obviously a lot to still be discovered in this universe, but he provided the groundwork for that in book one and I didn’t feel the universe was lacking. A word of warning to the squeamish, Scalzi does not hold back in his descriptions of gross aliens or death in war. Although I’m not particularly bothered by gore, I did find myself skimming those parts because I just didn’t want to know.
The characters were what really made this story for me. John Perry and the friends he makes once he enlists are all likable, yet flawed. Their camaraderie has the reader feeling for them, even when we don’t know a ton about them. I felt for them; their struggles, their successes, and their losses.
The plot was engaging as well. I did find that I preferred the first half of the book to the second half, pacing wise, as the second half took off and didn’t stop until the end. With that being said, it did set up the future of the series nicely. I plan on continuing with this series.
Have you read any Scalzi? Which of his books is your favorite?