Saturday, December 27, 2008

Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi (TOR 2008)

Lynn: I have strong feelings about the science fiction written for teens. I won’t go into that now but someday soon I will rant at length. I am feeling quite mellow right now because I just read an outstanding book that is guaranteed to win over even the most dubious. It does everything good science fiction should do. It is smart and extremely entertaining, pursuing thought-provoking themes that in this case are quintessentially adolescent AND universal. While providing lots of action and suspense, a great strength of this book is the richly developed characterizations. Terrific dialog and awesome aliens round out a book that is perfect to hand to anyone 12 and up, boys and girls, science fiction fans and newbies. Meet seventeen-year-old Zoë, smart, sassy, obsessed with her new boyfriend and rarely separated from her sarcastic best friend, Gretchen. She is also rarely separated from her two alien bodyguards who record her every experience for their home planet. Zoë’s foster parents are leaders of a new colony on the planet Roanoke. The colonists are struggling to establish farms and homes when they discover they are pawns in a gigantic galactic chess game. Zoë’s Tale is the fourth book in Scalzi’s outstanding Old Man’s War series and it is a parallel novel to The Lost Colony. Don’t panic! Zoë’s Tale stands alone quite nicely with ample background information seamlessly provided. I guarantee that most readers will immediately search out the first three books so be prepared to provide those too. In an author’s note, Scalzi says, “I despaired how I would ever actually get a writing tone approximating that of an actual teenage girl…” Well, he did and Zoë is a memorable character. This is one of those gateway books we librarians are always looking for that will open doors to new genres for readers. Buy this book for your teen collections NOW!
Cindy: I'm on deadline for some reviews and can't read this right now, but Lynn has me hooked. Most of the sf I've read has been the stuff she has sent my way and this sounds like a winner.