Review: The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi (Tor)

Title: The Ghost Brigades
Author: John Scalzi
Publisher: Tor
Published: 01 February 2008
Review Copy

If you have the mind of a traitor but not the body and want to know what he, Charles Boutin, knows what do you do? If you’re the Colonial Defence Forces (CDF) you make a body for the job. And the good news is if the mind doesn’t take you have a genetically enhanced new solider. It’s a win/win situation or so you’d think.

The opening description has got to be one of the best and most misleading openings to novel ever. If it’s designed to drag you in then well it did it for me.

It’s misleading as it uses a level of poetic and flowery language that doesn’t appear from then on in, which is actually a good thing. It shows that Scalzi can write but also shows that he’s using it for effect. The rest of the novel is told more functional but no less effective prose.

I tend to think of military sci-fi as grand and sweeping but the battle in The Ghost Brigades is more internal as Jared Dirac, the solider created from the seemingly failed attempt to join mind and body, has memories that aren’t his start to surface, that changes everything.

There are so many good things about this novel. The world building and the alien races. The hidden conspiracy. The evolution of Jared Dirac. The relationships between Jared and everyone around him. The technology. I could go on.

Suffice to say The Ghost Brigades is amongst the best sci-fi novels I’ve read in ages and Scalzi deserves a lot of success.

*This review doesn’t have a rating. I’m putting ratings on hold as I’m going to try to let the review speak for itself and you can decide whether you should read it or not.

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