Review of Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi

Updated: Jul 6, 2019

“Because they’re hermaphrodites. That means male and female sex organs. Go ahead and have your giggle. I’ll wait. Okay, done? Good.”

“Zoe’s Tale” is the fourth book in the “Old Man’s War” series, by John Scalzi.  This time, Zoe – John & Jane’s adopted daughter – is the protagonist. This tale is told from Zoe’s point of view and is set in the same time frame as ‘The Last Colony’

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John Scalzi has changed the template of his book yet again. “Zoe’s Colony” is an Young Adults Book. Scalzi covers Zoe’s teenage years with aplomb. See the starting quote for an example of this.

I am ambivalent about this book. On the one hand, we get to see more of the Conclave and the Obin than in the earlier books (which was one of my pet peeves about ‘The Last Colony’. In addition, the resolution of the conflict with the native species in Roanoake brings closure to their abrupt disappearance in ‘The Last Colony’.

On the other hand, a young adult’s book? Really? I am not able to grok how the publishers thought that the same audience that consumed ‘Old Man’s War’ would consume ‘Zoe’s Tale’. I don’t think it was necessary for this book to exist. Some of the content from this book – namely, the two afore mentioned points – could have been moved to ‘The Last Colony’ making that book better and keeping the series tight. Plus, we don’t really give a shit about Zoe. I would rather have a book about Gao or any of the other principal characters. The final annoyance is that the story is stale. Who wants to read a book which is the same as the previous except that the POV is different? It might make sense if this were done from opposing viewpoints but not from similar ones.

‘Zoe’s Tale’ can be safely skipped. Read it only if you are one of those people (like me) who will read all the books in the series.

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