The Choices We Make

The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War, #2) - John Scalzi

The Ghost Brigades" took a while to get going for me. I was honestly worried about getting into a DNF situation because the first part is typical Scalzi-disease. He starts trying to over explain the world and the science behind everything at the same time. Usually I am just confused and then go, wait, I don't think that works. This time I was just 100 percent bored. After a while, I started to skim because reading about DNA is not fascinating. At least to me. But once we got past that, the book really started to hum and I found myself reading as fast as I could because I got worried about the characters we started to follow, and what would become of them.

 

As readers found out in book #1, "Old Man's War" the Colonial Defence Forces (CDF) have been taking volunteers in order to fight battles across the galaxy. If you can survive two years, you can then be given a homestead on a colony. We followed main character, John Perry, as he volunteers to be part of the army and at the age of 75 has his consciousness transferred to a stronger and faster body (that is green) and through his journeys finds out that the CDF took the DNA of his dead wife and she is now Jane Sagan. 

 

Book #2 doesn't have John Perry (he is mentioned) but instead we focus on a scientist who turned against the CDF, Charles Boutin. The CDF in a computer finds a copy of Boutin's consciousness and then decides to download it into a new brain in order to find out more information about Boutin's plans.

 

The person that I would consider the main character is Jared Dirac (who has Boutin's consciousness alongside his own) that has no idea that he has another person's consciousness sitting alongside his own. As CDF waits to see if their experiment works, they send Dirac off to the Ghost Brigades and he finds himself under a platoon under the leadership of Jane Sagan. 

 

You really do need to read book #1 in order to understand some lines here and there. Some other characters note a change in Jane that happened years ago after she almost died and readers of course realize that is because of what she found out about her former life she doesn't remember due to John Perry. Also, we get to see how others view the Ghost Brigades (not real since they don't have a soul). Unlike with John, Jared is more serious, thoughtful and you start to think more and more about the concepts of a person's soul. Or at least I did.

 

There are a lot of characters in this one, but I thought it was easy to keep everyone straight. The dialogue at times was funny and I did think the writing was good. The flow was good once we got past the whole this is what DNA does pieces in this book too.

 

I thought ultimately this book really was about the choices that people make. We start to realize that everyone's choices pushed them to where we get to in this book. That some of these choices may have been morally wrong at times and you can see some of the characters struggling with the weight of those decisions. In the end I loved that we get to see Jared and Jane both evolve a lot further and instead of just taking orders, making sure that they were making choices that they can live with.

 

I don't know if I will read the third book in this series or not. I don't think that the CDF is full of bad guys, but they are doing some questionable things. I think that some of those things are going to bite them in the butt eventually. I do like the ethical questions that Scalzi brings up as you read this book. You get into the concept of torture, murder, what makes a person real to you and to me, etc. 

 

Bank:
April 15: $20
April 17: $23. I read "The Wangs Vs the World", electronic pages 368.
April 24: $28. I read "Dream Wedding", electronic pages 512.
April 25: $28. Landed on BL and had to post a vacation photo or tell a story about a vacation.
April 29: $31. Read "Whitethorn Woods", 354 pages Kindle edition, $3.00
April 29: $34. Read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", 256 pages;$3.00.

May 4: $37. Read "The Ghost Brigades" Paperback, 346 pages; $3.00