Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi
Release date: Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
When I requested the Advance Reader’s Copy of “Zoe’s Tale” from Shelf Awareness, I didn’t really have any idea what I was asking for. I basically requested the book because a bunch of LibraryThingers got really excited when they saw the author’s name, and the series this book supported. Then I realized it was science fiction, which I don’t usually read. I also then thought about what it meant that this was part of a series. “Fantastic,” I thought, “I’m not even going to have a clue as to what is going on, coming part way in through a science fiction series, of all things.” So I put “Zoe’s Tale” off, and off some more, until I realized that it was going to be released very soon and I was not fulfilling my side of the free book deal if I didn’t read and review it. Thus, I (reluctantly) began “Zoe’s Tale” on Saturday.
Within about 20 pages I was no longer reading reluctantly. While I am not a huge fan of science fiction, I AM a fan of a well-told story, and “Zoe’s Tale” is definitely that. I found Zoe to be an incredibly interesting character with a strong voice. For a teenage girl she was remarkably thoughtful with strong self-esteem and was not very whiny, although she was put in some very difficult situations as one of the first colonists on a new planet.
As I said, I had also been worried about being able to follow the storyline, as “Zoe’s Tale” was a companion to the ‘Old Man’s War’ stories. From what I gathered in Scalzi’s note at the end, this story is actually told in parallel with at least one of the books in the ‘Old Man’s War’ series. Scalzi did a remarkable job making this book stand 100% on its own. Not once did I feel that some information had been left out because it was in the other books. In fact, knowing that this was a completely parallel story made me enjoy it all the more in hindsight, due to the difficulty Scalzi must have had making the story fresh again through Zoe’s eyes after having told it through the eyes of her parents.
Perhaps reading “Zoe’s Tale” is my first step into exploring the science fiction genre. It certainly made me want to read at the very least the ‘Old Man’s War’ novels by Scalzi, and perhaps see what else he might have done. Really, the only negative thing I have to say about this book is, even after reading the whole thing, the cover art still doesn’t appeal to me. However, if that’s as bad as it gets, this book is pretty darn good!