Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars
And we’re back into John Scalzi’s excellent “Old Man’s War” universe! If I were to sum up “Zoe’s Tale” in one word it would be: cute. I’m sure John Scalzi would be thrilled. But I don’t mean it as an insult. In many ways, Scalzi has succeeded where others have failed. For starters, he successfully wrote a book from a female teenage protagonist’s point of view without coming off as a creepy guy. I’m looking at you, Piers Anthony! On top of that, the teenagers are actually pretty teenagey. Another thing that’s not easy to pull off as an adult writer without teenagers.
If in reading “Zoe’s Tale” you get the feeling that you’ve been here before, it’s because you have. If you’ve previously read “The Last Colony“, that is. This book tells the same story as “The Last Colony”, only from Zoe’s point of view. It also fills in gaps in the story from “The Last Colony” that people were curious about.
Zoe, if you will recall is the teenage adopted daughter of John Perry and Jane Sagan. And she has a…complicated…history. After all, it’s not all teenagers that have an entire race following their every word and action. And there’s also the two Obin bodyguards, Hickory and Dickory, who record and transmit her words and actions. Just what every teenager wants. To say that Zoe lives an interesting life is an understatement. Scalzi does a good job of delving into what that life would be like from a teenage perspective. And, of course, there’s Scalzi’s wit and sarcasm which is always a pleasure to read.
If you are a fan of the “Old Man’s War” universe, “Zoe’s Tale” is worth reading. Any extra tidbits you can get from a well written universe is always worth it as long as the story is reasonably well done. And this one is. The extra stuff with the werewolves, Zoe’s relationship with the Obin, and her diplomatic mission are all delicious morsels to sate your “Old Man’s War” fix. As a stand-alone book, I would not recommend “Zoe’s Tale” at all, except maybe to teenagers who would like to read a book with a teenage protagonist. The book does read like a stand-alone book, but there’s not much “there” there to make it worth while outside of the deeper “Old Man’s War” universe.