Friday, July 17, 2009
The Ghost Brigades
Scalzi, John. 2006. The Ghost Brigades. 314 pages.
No one noticed the rock.
And for a good reason. The rock was nondescript, one of millions of chunks of rock and ice floating in the parabolic orbit of a long-dead short-period comet, looking just like any chunk of that deceased comet might.
The Ghost Brigades is the sequel to Old Man's War. Our hero is not John Perry--which disappointed me slightly, I admit--but a Special Forces soldier named Jared Dirac. This isn't just any Special Forces soldier. No he's a unique individual. Specifically designed to host the consciousness of Charles Boutin. Who is Charles Boutin? A traitor to the human race, a top-level scientist of the CDF--Colonial Defense Forces. When this man's consciousness is found in a machine, the difficult choice is made to create a body for it--part clone, part special forces 'super' soldier. But when this transfer doesn't go quite like planned, he becomes a seemingly ordinary soldier. With his BrainPal, he joins other soldiers and blends in well. Until. Until the day he decides to try black jellybeans.
"It was the black jellybeans that did it." (164)
A taste of this candy triggers a memory--the memory of his daughter Zoe to be precise--but it doesn't stop there. And this change in him doesn't escape notice. Ordinary soldier, no more. A man not quite trusted, a man to be observed and experimented with. And suddenly there's a fight going on within him. He's still Jared, for now at least, but he also finds Charles to be there--his memories, his feelings. As the weeks and months go by, he learns more, feels more. Can Jared be used to puzzle out the mystery of Charles Boutin's betrayal? Is Jared friend or foe to humanity? Is he fated to turn traitor too?
The only familiar face--at least that I can recall--is Jane Sagan, the friend and love interest of John Perry. She's still a soldier. And she plays an important part in this one. Jared is one of "her" soldiers--he's under her command. She's there to watch him, observe him, and see where Jared's loyalties are.
How does this one compare to Old Man's War? Well, I found it more serious (more detail-oriented as well) and less humorous. I miss Perry's sarcasm and wit. The Ghost Brigades is science fiction, a military-oriented space drama. The plot is advanced considerably in The Ghost Brigades, and the stage is being set for a showdown. So in answer, I liked it well enough. But I didn't love it.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews