Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: Zoe's Tale

Zoe's Tale
Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What this book does well: capture the voice of the characters, making them fun to read about.

What this book does not do well: tell a story.

What we have here is basically the leftover chapters from [b:The Last Colony|88071|The Last Colony (Old Man's War #3)|John Scalzi||18279847]. (Though not literally, apparently; he describes going back to write them in the afterword.) It is snippets of Zoe's life, from her perspective, at various points while the story of that book is going on. Which is kind of a problem; it reads like a connection of loosely-related vignettes, and requires knowledge of The Last Colony to make it hang together. That's not a _terrible_ thing, per-se - most of the readers of this book probably _have_ read the previous one - but it breaks the narrative up in weird ways. It's like reading only the even-numbered chapters of a book, then going back and reading the odd ones; yes, you get the whole story in the end, but the experience is lessened by the presentation. And the attempts Scalzi makes to tie the little storylets together by reminding you about what was happening in the previous book don't really help. They're slightly annoying, repeating obvious things you already know, but still not enough to make the book stand on its own.

I quite enjoyed reading this. Zoe is an interesting character, portrayed well, and with a wry humour that appeals to me (it made me laugh out loud while having surgery, which the doctor said was a first...) But the individual pieces, while well-crafted, don't seem to add up to a coherent whole.

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