This is another book in the Old Man’s War universe, and it takes place during the same time period as The Last Colony. In fact, it covers many of the same events as The Last Colony, but it does it from a different POV, specifically Zoe’s.
Zoe is the adopted daughter of John Perry and Jane Sagan, both veterans of humanity’s ongoing war against an endless parade of alien species over galactic real estate. How the three of them came together in the first place is a spoiler-ific backstory, so I’ll merely direct you to Old Man’s War and Ghost Brigades. Suffice it to say, John and Jane kick ass, and Zoe became the most famous five-year old in the galaxy quite some time back. As a teenager, it’s starting to wear thin.
So, just as The Last Colony was, this is the story of the human colony of Roanoke. A large interspecies alliance has placed a ban on new colonies, and humanity has decided to thumb their noses at the ban. This puts the colonists of Roanoke in grave danger, but never fear – the Colonial Defense Forces have a plan. Unfortunately, that plan isn’t necessarily such a good idea in the long run for humanity, let alone the poor folks sitting down on Roanoke.
I have to admit, I had some worry when I started into this book, since I knew it was essentially retelling a story that I already knew. There were not a lot of grand revelations lurking behind the scenes – most everything had already been put out there in The Last Colony. However, it really comes down to the writing, and John Scalzi knocked this one out of the park. The book was filled with little moments that were merely off in the background of the first telling that were quite moving when seen up close. An early chapter about a jade elephant pendant brought me to tears.
But it’s not all poignant vignettes and cool POV twisting. One unknown had been left out there by the first telling in The Last Colony, and here we finally see what really happened with Zoe went off on her own. We had already known she had met with some degree of success, but now we finally see how she did it. Zoe kicked ass even better than her adopted parents do.
So, even if you think you already know the whole story from The Last Colony, this is definitely worth the read.