I’m going to be a little different and review these together. They are different books, but they have essentially the same overall plot seen through two different characters. John experiences different things than Zoe does, but the main events are the same and I thought it would be easier on my blog schedule to just combine!
After spending eight years on Huckleberry, John Perry and his wife Jane, a former Special Forces soldier, are recruited to help start a new world on Roanoke. Their daughter, Zoe, doesn’t have as much choice in the matter, but is completely ready herself to move on, with her two Obin companions in tow as always, since she is revered as a near goddess by the Obin race. From the moment the family and their settlers first see Roanoke, they know that nothing is going to be quite what they expected and soon they find themselves embroiled in what may be an intergalactic war. John, Jane, and Zoe must each use their special advantages in order to keep the colony alive and save all of those they love.
First of all, I just loved the way these books worked together. I am actually quite a fan of the same story told from two different perspectives, although it was surprisingly difficult for me to yank myself out of John’s head and place myself into Zoe’s since I read the books in a row. John Scalzi’s brand of prose is very distinctive and while Zoe is certainly a teenage girl (and many props to him and his female test-readers for pulling that off) I have gotten used to the idea that his writing = a man. This is one of the instances in which having a very distinctive writing style worked against the book. I got over it eventually. I loved the way that certain holes left in The Last Colony were filled masterfully by Zoe’s Tale in particular. What’s amazing is that Scalzi didn’t even plan it that way, but rather came back and thought about how things came to be from Zoe’s perspective.
The story itself is, as always, a very interesting one. More and more problems occur from almost the first pages of the books onwards as the Roanoke colonists realize just how very much trouble they’re in. Both of these books are very quick reads; they’re on the short side and it’s difficult to put them down. By now I love all the characters and I have them firmly in my head, but they still develop here. This is especially so for Zoe, who is a teenager and changing faster than you can imagine with all the pressure placed on her. She learns so much about the world but I didn’t find any of it to be too much, if that makes sense. She develops but in a more realistic way given her extraordinary lifestyle.
I love these books. I’m a little sad that we’ve left these characters behind, probably for good. I adored the entire series and I highly recommend it, even if you don’t like science fiction. I know I didn’t. These are still fantastic books, with strong characters, an exciting plotline, and plenty of laughter and emotional intensity.