What's the book about?
In the future we have manage to go out space and start colonizing. But in the case of the States you can only go into space as a Colonial Special Forces (CSF) recruit and you can only enlist after you are 75. You will be "made" young again, but you can never come back to Earth. However, once you finish your term you will be allowed to go to one of the colonies, young again, and go on with your life. For John Perry, this is the life he is opting for. We will learn about how he becomes young again, all of his training in the forces and how human nature is hard to beat, even in space.
What was different of this book?
I don't read a lot of Science Fiction, not because I'm not interested but because sometimes I get very frustrated with the Science part. I liked the science in this book, Scalzi is specific enough so things make sense from the Earth point of view, but is vague enough with certain procedures so you don't get all "well, that just can't work like that!" (and by you I mean me, sorry). Also, it is implied that some of the technology and hence science advances made in the book was not developed solely based on our technology, a.k.a: we stole/took/borrow from our alien counterparts and some of the principles that apply to such technology make sense once out in space. This is very important for me, because all I ask for is that the things happening are plausible in the books universe .
Even though the book is about a war happening while defending our new colonies, I liked the fact that is not a war book. While using this type of confrontation the book also talks politic points, approach to new cultures/religions and most importantly for me, how no matter what physical changes we might went through, our personality and the characteristics that makes us who we are, remains.
What about the main character?
John Perry is a good guy. He lost his wife recently and suddenly. He leaves Earth after making peace with everyone he leaves behind.
Over the course of the year, I had had a few sit-downs with old friends and family and did a final poking of old wounds and ashes; in nearly every case it ended well. A couple of times I asked for forgiveness for things I didn't particularly feel sorry about, and in one case I found myself with someone who otherwise I'd rather I hadn't. But you do what you have to do to give people closure; it makes them feel better and it doesn't cost you much to do it
When he enrolls he is lucky enough to make good friends from the beginning and the remains a good friend until the end. He is born leader, even when he doesn't realize it. He is one of those whom always puts others before him.
Although this is not a love story it is evident that he never forgets the love of his life. Kathy is always in his thoughts. **spoiler** I have to admit I was not expecting her to come back, however changed she was as Jane **spoiler**
The 10% moment
The language is very fluid. As you may have noticed by the quote before it is written in first person. John has said his goodbyes and is now leaving Earth. By this moment in the book John has met 2 of his new friends, Jesse and Harry, while being taken to the first station. Some of the political situations are introduced. There are some hints as to what is going to happen, enough so to want to continue reading.
I have to say I am very happy that with this months Sword and Laser choice. I definitely recommend this book. Not only for SciFi fans, but anyone who appreciates a good story. As I mentioned the language is very fluid and the story is very well told, it carries the reader easily. The characters could have a little bit more of a back story, but with the bit given you have enough information to understand their positions and attitudes during the development of events.