Zoe’s Tale is the retelling of the events of “The Last Colony” through the eyes of the daughter of the main protagonists in the earlier novel. What drove me nuts about this book was how perky it was. Well perhaps it was the main character that was perky, but dammit, way *too* perky. Annoyingly perky. And a bit too well adjusted to the point where I thought “look, other than on Disney DVDs, no teenage girl is this perky and well adjusted”. I’ve liked the other books in Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” series, though I did feel that he didn’t make a convincing argument for the premise of the first book, that old people in new bodies make better soldiers (I don’t think he really sold the “old people in young bodies” thing all that well). That aside, I liked it because the style was reminiscent of The Forever War and Starship Troopers – basically a squad of badasses being badasses and kicking alien butt (sorry Blarkon). Zoe’s Tale doesn’t go in this direction. It cloyingly retells The Last Colony and the angst that you’d expect from a teenage girl dragged along behind their parents through an interstellar conflict never really eventuates. Where does a character that is extremely well adjusted at the start of the novel get to go emotionally by the end? What lessons can they really learn when they appear to know it all (and don’t just think they do – as I said, the character both way to bubbly and ahead of the curve).
I think I recall Scalzi saying in some of the notes at the end of The Last Colony that he wouldn’t be revisiting the Old Man’s War universe. By revisiting events that have already transpired, I guess that still stands. I like Scalzi and I’ll read anything he publishes, but, without putting too fine a point on it, this one wasn’t my favourite book he’s written.