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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027
The Human Division - John Scalzi I was really excited when I heard that John Scalzi was returning to the Old Man's War universe for his newest book. Even more intriguing was his business style- a new story a week for two whole months? Since the explosion of e-readers and as a fanfiction vet, I've been curious to see if anyone would be willing to take a shot at e-serialization. Scalzi even refers to writing the book as like a TV show. And like a bad fan, I waited for the DVD set. (Because hey, there were going to be extra stories and LOOK I CAN ONLY READ SO MUCH IN A WEEK, ALL RIGHT?)Anyway. There’s always a risk when I pick up a continuation of a series I really like and properly “ended.” Most of the books that I see that are continuations just seem to focus on making the fans happy with what they want—they want more of this character, they think that this or that should happen. And for a series like Old Man’s War, I’d be kind of disappointed if we did pick up with John and Jane and Zoe x-number of months after the conclusion of The Lost Colony/Zoe’s Tale and continuing their story. Would I like to know how they’re doing down the road; sure. But seeing as they got their ending, it doesn’t mean I want them to get dragged into the story, kicking and screaming. I prefer it when authors explore the fallout of the big, Earth-shattering revelation at the end of the series, and how everyone else in this universe reacts and how it fundamentally changes things. (This is why I tend to prefer Scott Westerfeld’s Extras over the rest of the Uglies series.)(Please ignore the irony bell, because my introduction to the Old Man’s War verse? Zoe’s Tale. Yeah. To be entirely fair, I loved it and had to go read the first book and find out what happened to get to that point.) But here’s the main reason why I really loved reading this book: Scalzi not only explores the fallout of John Perry’s unveiling of what the Colonial Defense Force has been doing this entire time, but he also gives us multiple arguments from every side. Sure, it’s no secret that the CDF higher-ups are up to no good, but it never means that the individual CDF soldiers are evil or plotting against the whole of humanity. (It may also help that we never see the CDF higher-ups, just the regular soldiers like Harry Wilson or their various minions.) All of the major characters—human, alien, CDF, brain-in-a-box—do struggle with what they need to do and what they know is the right thing to do. One of the first stories in the book, “A Voice in the Wilderness” is about a radio personality who encourages conspiracy theorists, even when he doesn’t believe in the conspiracies (something that I loathe in real life)…and even that character managed to feel sympathetic to me. The point of the B Squad is not only to stop potential warfare with hundreds of alien races and Earth, but to also show said hundreds of alien races that “No, we’re just like you and we got massively screwed over by the CDF too.” The other thing that I’ve always admired Scalzi for is that he’s able to make all of his characters feel completely real, and especially here since he’s working with loads and loads of them. It’s not just having the aliens seem human, but it’s highlighting their emotions and feelings on the situations at hand. Even though the majority of our alien interaction is with Hafte Sorvalh, we even get little glimpses with the various races and interactions that the B-Squad has. (Btw, HAFTE SORVALH IS A DIPLOMATIC, CHURRO-LOVIN’ BADASS AND I LOVE HER.) And I really enjoy all the chemistry between the characters—not everyone automatically gets along or becomes buddy-buddy, but I like that, and they feel more like a real team for it.Coming as the bad person who waited for the final print of the book instead of reading it installment by installment—to be fair, I completely plan on subscribing for “season 2”—it makes reading this book interesting. In a good way. There is a larger story arc going on, and it all culminates in the final story, “Earth Below, Sky Above.” (The bonus stories are pretty much bonuses—“After the Fall” is a chaser about the more…physical strengths of diplomacy; “Hafte Sorvalh Eats a Churro and Speaks to the Youth of Today” feels more like a proper epilogue to the book. I really enjoyed both of them.) But you could actually open up the book and start at any point—the only downside here is that you’d need familiarity with what happened at the end of The Last Colony; but from there, you should be good. As the new form of serialization, I think Scalzi absolutely succeeded with The Human Division, and his plans to write more with these characters and this universe not only makes me happy as a fan, but overall in that I want to see where these characters are going to go next. And even overall, it’s a really good book. The loose story structure might be frustrating for some readers, but I think explaining and approaching it with the television metaphor helps immensely for newcomers. I really enjoyed the book, and can’t wait to read more.