Old Man’s War

I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.
Visiting Kathy’s grave was the less dramatic of the two.”
― John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Old Man’s War is a military science fiction / space opera novel by American writer John Scalzi, published in 2005. His debut novel was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2006.

Good news first. Humanity has finally made it into interstellar space. Bad news: planets fit for life are very few and we have to fight for them against other alien races.

“Guns don’t kill people. The aliens behind the triggers do.”
― John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Some minor spoilers in this review.
This sort of reminded me of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Except that obviously, there are some great big differences. Major one being:  It’s not about the kids! It’s about the old people! Har har har! And it’s a space opera so it doesn’t carry the same almost depressing tone like Ender’s game. The plot and even the very first lines of the book are amazing.On his 75th birthday, John Perry joins the army. And it’s not something uncommon. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF or Colonial Defense Force. 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 takes the deal.

This is why I picked up the book really ..It was very unique story blurb to read from Audible description of the book.  Life apparently just starts when you’re old. And so our John joins the army and gets a new, green, better body, a BrainPal he call “Asshole” and off he goes to fight battles with alien life forms.

“Many BrainPal users find it useful to give their BrainPal a name other than BrainPal. Would you like to name your BrainPal at this time?
“Yes,” I said.
Please speak the name you would like to give your BrainPal.
“Asshole,” I said.
― John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Needless to say that I very much enjoyed this book. There were many reasons.  As so often in books, I adored the humorous style. And jokes of Perry that no one but him really got (happens to me all the time). Then there was the age factor. Perry was so tactful about everything and simply wise in many situations and there was little of this stupid arguing between the characters. I Iiked how aliens were written… I liked how people were written. Descriptions of personalities were awesome. And world and aliens were just unbelievable enough for them to be believable. Moreover, even though it is a space opera, it carried some quite serious observations and thoughts. For example, there was no diplomacy because CDF had basically decided that it’s too slow and it’s easier just to start a war… Perry also describes his feelings when he fights seemingly intelligent life forms and the whole book also questions what it is to be human really. And then because it’s war, many die…
BUT there are great plot twists!

Once again, I listened to this on Audible (It’s my new favorite app) and I really liked William Dufris’ performance. This will sound weird to those of you who don’t listen to audio books but he was good with both female and male voices and old and young voices. Moreover, I guess with good audio books you can’t quite tell what it was but you just like the performance.
I guess what I didn’t like was that it ended so quickly :(

4,5/5 stars

How-To Read Old Man’s War

1. If you love science fiction, read this (or listen to it), you’ll be very entertained. If you like space opera, you’ll love this.
2. Just 10 hours on Audible! (Or about 400 pages).
3. Easy kind of sciene fiction, surely as a scifi fan you’ll overanalyze everything anyway but good authors make it easy for you to overanalyze it.
4. There’s  5 more books to this series! (Ah I can’t wait tor read them.)
5. John Scalzi has this greatest blog called Whatever – This machine mocks fascists. It’s quite humorous.

Do not mourn me, friends
I fall as a shooting star
Into the next life

― John ScalziOld Man’s War

 

How-To Fight Buggers

“Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

 

Ender’s Game is a 1985 military science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card. Set in Earth’s future, the novel presents an imperilled mankind after two conflicts with the alien species called “buggers”. In preparation for an anticipated third invasion, children, including Ender Wiggin, are trained from a very young age through increasingly difficult games.

“I don’t care if I pass your test, I don’t care if I follow your rules. If you can cheat, so can I. I won’t let you beat me unfairly – I’ll beat you unfairly first. ”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

About the plot: After certain events, Ender is offered a place in battle school located in earth’s orbit. Ender’s life in Battle School is a difficult one, he is isolated from his fellow recruits and given tasks that are increasingly difficult. The cadets of the school participate in competitive war simulations in zero gravity and we learn soon that Ender quickly masters whatever simulation he participates in, he is a strategic genius. He seems to pass every simulation, every game there is…
But the simulations aren’t quite what they seem…

At first, it was hard for me to get into this book because main characters seemed too young and too cunning and they’re sent to learn how to fight when they’re 6? Yet that’s what we do, right? We screw things up or in this case aliens has screwed everything up and then send kids to fix everything.

“Peter, you’re twelve years old. I’m ten. They have a word for people our age. They call us children and they treat us like mice.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

I got into this book quite quickly. I liked Ender a lot. He’s smart, he does not want to cause any harm, yet he will do what has to be done. His brother Peter is a ruthless sociopath and his sister Valentine is compassionate and kind. Ender is somewhere in between. I also liked the plot, even if the battle scenes were a bit boring from time to time. Also, the narration wasn’t too clear, however, somehow it suited the book well.

In the end, I guess why I rated this book so high was because of how humans had encountered alien life form. Buggers came and then there were many wars and there was no common language or understanding between the two species. And now, 30 years after this book, would we understand aliens or would we end up in Ender’s Game?
5/5 stars

How- To Read Ender’s Game
1. 
If you liked this, there’s more.  3 books worth more. While I was a fan of two first books in Ender’s Quintet, I had quite big difficulties finishing the last two books.
2. 
If you don’t like war fiction, I don’t think you’ll find this too exciting. Moreover, everyone in this book manipulates others and so it certainly does not present you with best human characteristics.
3.
There is a film adaptation from  2013. Written and directed by Gavin Hood, the film stars Asa Butterfield as Ender.

Have you read this? Thoughts? This post is a part of a very happy event called scifi month. Check it out.

Cover image by: Gwydion M. Williams, Post pictures: Ender’s Game Fromic Fight on VimeoEnder’s Game Formic World Fight on Vimeo.

Ten Books I Loved More Than I Thought I Would

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: “Ten Books I Loved More/Less Than I Thought I Would”. Here are recent reads I never expected to like as much as I did:

The Demonata series by Darren Shan

“There’s something different about you,” he says.
“I’ve started styling my hair differently,” I laugh.
“Oh. I thought it was that you were three feet taller, a hell of a lot broader, look like a werewolf, and are naked expect for that bit of cloth around your waist. But you’re right – it’s the hair.”
― Darren Shan, Wolf Island

The Demonata is a series of books by best selling author Darren Shan. It deals with the world of demons. I’m still reading the last books of this series but I very warmly recommend these books to fans of Cirque du Freak and fans of horror. By the way, I really like the cover art of these, they’re odd in a way but very fitting.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

“Know what?”
“I didn’t you see. I thought trees stood up straight… I only found out just now. They actually stand with both arms in the earth, all of them. Look, look, over there, aren’t you surprised? Yeong-hye sprang up and pointed to the window. “All of them, they’re all standing on their heads.”
― Han Kang, The Vegetarian

The Vegetarian  is a South Korean three-part drama novella written by Han Kang and first published in 2007. Based on Kang’s 1997 short story “The Fruit of My Woman”, The Vegetarian is set in modern-day Seoul and tells the story of Yeong-hye, a home-maker, whose decision to stop eating meat after a bloody, nightmarish dream about human cruelty leads to devastating consequences in her personal and familial life.

Very decent kind of a book. I don’t know how to sum it up, so I won’t. I think the Vegetarian beautifully describes madness and the state of mind and how dreams indeed can be very dangerous things. The Vegetarian is beautifully written, absolutely extraordinary story. I thought I was dreaming when Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama was mentioned. Her obsessive and maddening dots were just perfect for this.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game is a 1985 military science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card. Set in Earth’s future, the novel presents an imperiled mankind after two conflicts with the “buggers”, an insectoid alien species. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Also, I think the topic is very good, what if we find extraterrestial life and this would happen? And the ending blew me away…

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

“Stories don’t always have happy endings.”
This stopped him. Because they didn’t, did they? That’s one thing the monster had definitely taught him. Stories were wild, wild animals and went off in directions you couldn’t expect.”
― Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls6tag-1486666194-1400766922102349925_1486666194

A Monster Calls is a novel written for children by Patrick Ness, from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd, illustrated by Jim Kay, and published in 2011. It features a boy who struggles to cope with the consequences of his mother’s terminal cancer; he is repeatedly visited in the middle of the night by a monster who tells stories. Dowd was terminally ill with cancer herself when she started the story and died before she could write it… Oh the amount of tears I cried while reading this. Still one of the best books I’ve ever read. And Kay’s illustrations are just stunning.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

“Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.”
― Marissa Meyer, Cinder

The Lunar Chronicles is a tetralogy of young adult fantasy novels written by American author Marissa Meyer. Each book entails a new take on an old fairy tale, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White. The story takes place in a futuristic world where humans, cyborgs, androids, and a race of moon colonists all coexist. Sounds like a  fantasy lovers dream come true right?

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.”
― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

“Why must you look like the rest of us? Why do you have to be the one to change? Change the way we see. Don’t change the way you are.”
― Tahereh Mafi, Furthermore

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. Furthermore is an absolutely fantastic retelling of Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

“Rhysand stared at me for long enough that I faced him.
“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”
― Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses

Reading this was pure ecstasy. After Throne of Glass series I wasn’t sure whether this would reach the same level. I needn’t have worried. ACOTAR had everything I want from fantasy novel: great characters (not to even mention all the fairie males…), marvellous world-building, magic, great dialogue between characters. A Court of Mist and Fury was just as good as this. How long do we still have to wait until ACOWAR comes out…

The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer

“You’ll make mistakes because it’s impossible to know what is or isn’t a mistake until it’s made.”
― Stephenie Meyer, The Chemist

Surprisingly good! This was by far the best Meyer book I have read. I never was a big fan of Twilight series but this was something completely different. I think Meyer should write more thrillers.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

“I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”
― Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Terribly funny, engaging & inspiring!
I love people who have a good sense of humor and who constantly make jokes about everything. So I loved this book! Shonda Rhimes is just amazing. She’s introvert and brutally honest about everything she does and what she thinks about.
I also didn’t expect this to be so humorous. If you have watched Shondaland shows: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder you know what I’m talking about. Especially Grey’s Anatomy… How many times you have cried watching that?
& Be a doer, not a dreamer.

Sorry for a long post. Sorry no potato like in 9GAG. Pictures of books: my own/ Goodreads, Pinterest, Photobucket.

Happy TTT! Have you read these? What are the books that surprised you?

~ Anastasia