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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Audible Book Review: Old Man's War by John Scalzi

This is a captivating, action-packed space story with a great narrator.
Old Man's War
Written by: John Scalzi
Narrated by: William Dufris

Length: 9 hrs and 58 mins
Series: Old Man's War, Book 1
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:10-08-07
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Genre: Sci Fi
My Rating: 4.5 0f 5.0

Publisher's Summary
John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First, he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.
The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce - and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So, we fight, to defend Earth and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.
Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.
John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea of what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine. And what he will become is far stranger.
©2005 John Scalzi (P)2007 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC

John Perry is a 75-year-old man on earth who lived a good life married to a lovely woman who died a few years back from a sudden stroke. In John’s world all humans register for government service at age 65 when they are given ten years to decide if they will continue to grow old on earth or enlist for a minimum two years of space service. All the humans know is that if they join the Colonial Defense Force (CDF) they will get a body upgrade but they will never get to return to earth. No one actually knows what happens as they have never seen any human who has joined the CDF.

The work of the CDF is to protect the human colonies all over space. Many species are fighting over the valuable asset of livable planet surface. The same environment is not suitable for all, but for those who share the same needs as humans, the competition is fierce. The new recruits are physically enhanced so they can have a fighting chance. Suddenly the 75 year olds have become 25 year olds with super strength.

John is one of many recruits who face their basic training drill sergeant who is the first, loudest and roughest to tell them this is nothing like earth service. Here in the CDF most recruits are dispensable bodies who will not make it through their two years and it is his job to push them beyond what they think they can endure.

John gathers a handful of friends who form a bond through training. Two females and five men who each contribute a special skill that make them a good team. John has a knack for seeing alternate approaches and solutions. This helps his team succeed in a training mission that gets him recognized by his superiors. The “gang” is assigned to different ships for duty but they design a way to stay in touch. On his first real mission John again discovers a pattern that saves his squad and the battle.

John continues to fight and be an asset to his teams. Then he meets the Ghost Squad – a special forces unit that is only rumored to exist. Among their ranks is a woman, Jane, who could be a double for his dead wife in looks although she doesn't possess the same human qualities. Although regular recruits are not to have contact with the Ghost Squad, John ends up being pulled into a special mission with that team.

I found John a wonderful, strong, warm character and his friends add depth and interest. The concept is fascinating with plenty of futuristic, creative technology and imaginative alien species. I was totally engaged with the story and John’s adventures and then enjoyed the addition of Jane and their slow growing relationship. John questions why there is no effort to negotiate instead of engaging in battle and the author’s discussion and examples were interesting.

There is some bad language which I passed over as much as possible. I really loved the action, the light humor and the character development. I found this hard to put down. I will want to listen to more in the series.

Audio Notes: William Dufris does a great job with this narration. I was soon pulled into John’s world and appreciated Dufris skillful presentation of the story from his view and with unique voices for other characters as John interacts with them. I am always glad to listen to Dufris narrate and he added to my enjoyment of this story.

I pulled this from my Audible Library for a TBR (2013) and it qualifies for "O” on Alphabet Soup Challenge.

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