John Scalzi’s The Last Colony is the final ‘official’ volume in his Old Man’s War series begun in the title novel (review here) and then continued in The Ghost Brigades (review here). Those of you that have been keeping up will know that I read and loved both of those, the first to a slightly greater degree than the second. Upon completing that second volume a couple of weeks back I came to realize that The Last Colony saw the return of John Perry, my favorite character in the series, so without leaving as a big a gap between the my readings of the series, I very soon jumped right back in to Scalzi’s work and man, is this ever a conclusion to this series.
John Perry has at last found peace in a violent universe, living quietly with his wife and daughter in one of humanity’s many colonies. It’s a good life, yet there is something strangely missing. When John and Jane are asked to lead a new colony world, he jumps at the chance to explore the universe once more.
But Perry soon finds out that nothing is what it seems. He and his new colony are merely pawns in an interstellar game of war and diplomacy between humanity’s Colonial Union and a new, seemingly unstoppable alien alliance that has decreed an end to all human colonization.
As this contest rages above, Perry struggles to keep his terrified colonists alive in the face of threats, both alien and familiar, on a planet yet to reveal its own fatal secrets.
For their survival, he must now unravel the web of lies and half-truths spun around him - to prevent an all-engulfing war that threatens to make his followers the last colony of the human race.
The book picks up the familiar story threads of the first two books a few years after the events of the second. At the end of that one, we’d been left with the knowledge that Jane Sagan would able to retire to colony with John Perry and Zoë Boutin was to become their adoptive daughter. The Last Colony finds them on the colony where they’ve lived for some years and when they are about to be made an offer they almost cannot resist. The blurb above, of course, will give you more details.
Needless to say, I was improbably joyful at the return as first person narrator of John Perry, who’s wit and observation angle in almost every scene I had missed in The Ghost Brigades. He doesn’t fail to deliver just as many one-liners as he first did in Old Man’s War, or criticize to no end all situations he finds himself in, but having been with him for years now, his point of view has become even more comfortable to be in.
The plot revolves around much the same things as its predecessors: interplanetary relations - be they war or diplomacy - survival in the face of a harsh universe as well as deceit and conspiracies. So nothing new here. But The Last Colony takes strands of plot conveniently introduced in The Ghost Brigades - Charles and Zoë Boutin’s relationship with the Obin; the Conclave and Counter-Conclave; etc. - and expands them into more important plot lines so that the reader really feels like this part of the series’ story has been built up to, something that was lacking in the somewhat episodic The Ghost Brigades.
The Last Colony also carries the significant duty of putting an end to the John Perry-Jane Sagan story, and in true Scalzi style he does so brilliantly. The conclusion was so well-fitting and clever, had it broached on more emotional chords, I might have just teared up. Character arcs and universal arcs come into place just as we’ve known they should since the beginning. And did I mention it also happens to be sort of awesome?
For those who’ve waited on reading The Last Colony for fear of a disappointment after excellent first two volumes, you can put your fears aside - Scalzi delivers, and in style! While I’m willing to admit I’m not much of an authority as I’d like to be in this particular genre, I have to say that the Old Man’s War series truly is one best space operas I’ve read and certainly deserves your attention. John Scalzi has a new novel, set outside of the universe of these books, Fuzzy Nation, coming out in 2011. There’s also Zoë’s Tale, a retelling of The Last Colony’s events but from Zoë perspective - I’m not too sure about this but some of you might like to give it a try.
My Rating: 5 out of 5
Reading Age: 16 and up
John's Scalzi's Website: http://whatever.scalzi.com/
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