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Zoe's tale

by John Scalzi

  Print book : Fiction  |  1st ed

New Perspective on The Lost Colony   (2008-09-13)

Very Good

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by wrobins1

Scalzi, John  ~ Zoe's Tale; an Old Man's War Novel ~ TOR, 2008 ~ 335 pages ~ adults, some teens, some tweens.

"I lifted up my dad's PDA and counted off the seconds with the two thousand other people in the room."

This is a sequel to The Last Colony, but not in the normal sense since this is the Last Colony story seen from Zoe's [the daughter of the colony administrator] experience and viewpoint. Those who've read The Last Colony will find much that's familiar. Still, they will find the earlier story fleshed out quite a bit, especially the closing parts. While the story is a young adult story [Zoe is in her teens], most adults will enjoy it.

The story begins with the voyage to the colonists' new home and ends with a dramatic confrontation that could result in the destruction of the colony.

Zoe, her alien Obin bodyguards Hickory and Dickory, and her close friends are at the heart of the story. Scalzi does a nice job with character development and interactions. While there is a notable threat of action, this is not action-filled. Rather it's about self-discovery and relationships. While adequate, the world-building is straight-forward and not especially notable. The Obin race with their special relationship to Zoe is different and adds much to the story--more so than in the original.

The plot is essentially the same as the earlier work. Less attention is paid to the adult characters but Zoe's parents play an important role [she is adopted]. The pace is fairly slow until the Conclave attack and then it speeds forward to a nicely done conclusion. The story is easily read and the vocabulary is not over charged with scientific or technical words. While in a SF setting, this is a story of personal growth and interactions.


Scalzi burst upon the SF scene just a few years ago with Old Man's War which was quite a success. The Last Colony was also popular and well received. With its young adult cross-over potential [if properly promoted], this is a strong choice for the SF collection. Cover art by John Harris shows a holed, smoking space ship. Readability is good with dark print and reasonable white space.

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