Author: John Scalzi
Rating: 4 Stars
Review By: Shana
First in the well-known SF series following septuagenarian recruit to the military, John Perry. In this far future universe, humans have stepped out into the stars and found it to be teeming with intelligent, and usually hostile, life. With multiple colonies throughout the universe, the fight to settle and protect new worlds is fierce and Earth's senior citizens are given the option to enlist at age 75 and join the Colonial Defense Forces.
The reader learns all this from John Perry, a former Midwesterner and widower who decides to answer the call. All he knows (and all any recruit knows) is that he is committing to at least 2 and up to 10 years of service, and that the CDF has some way of making him young again. The idea of renewed youth and an escape from a planet that reminds him of his beloved wife is enough to launch Perry into space. There are advantages to older recruits who have mostly spent their youthful indiscretion and are less likely to feel the need to out-testosterone each other. And with future technology, soldiers make up both sexes and the added perspective that age and experience gives makes the characters all the more charming. Oh, and it is more than a little fun to see what some newly-young 70-somethings might do for fun (spoiler alert: sex and cholesterol seem pretty popular).
This book has shades of Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Haldeman's Forever War, but with a lot more humanity and humor (think the 1985 film Cocoon meets military action-adventure). Scalzi has invented some interesting technology to propel the story, from genetic alteration to machine-brain interfaces called BrainPals (a successful running joke centers around recruits' naming their BrainPals). Fast-paced and wry, for readers new to the series there is a lot to look forward to (six books in all), and I'm sure more than a few will choose to continue to explore the universe Scalzi has created.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...