Sunday, September 6, 2009 by Becky
Scalzi, John. 2005. Old Man's War. TOR. 311 pages.
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 Perry, our narrator, is a great guy to get to know. He's seventy-five, but his life is just beginning. Or should I say, just beginning to begin again. John and Kathy--like so many other senior citizens--decided upon reaching the big 6-5 to volunteer for the army. (They have ten years to change their minds. They're called into service when they're 75.) What does this mean? It means that as soldiers they'll be leaving Earth behind forever. They're not allowed to return...ever. But it also means--in a way--longevity. Though no one knows quite how, they know that *something* will be done to their bodies to make them young and strong and vibrant again. Sure, to get this vitality, this new youth, this health they have to pledge themselves to serve in the army, to fight to protect human colonies on other planets. Two to ten years. That's what it will cost. If they survive, they'll have a second life, a second chance. (Just remember that a younger body doesn't make for a younger soul.)
John doesn't know exactly all that he's in for. But he knows it's bound to be better than just growing old and dying. He figures that he can adapt to just about anything.
War. It's inescapable when it's in the title. John Perry will have to fight to survive, to stay alive. He'll have to learn to follow orders. (Not all of his fellow soldiers do, you know. Some pay for this with their lives.) And John has the makings of an excellent soldier. He's good at surviving. Suspiciously good at surviving if you ask some folks. Unlike most soldiers, John is going to have some close encounters with the Special Forces. Actually serving alongside them for a while. And what he learns is a bit shocking...to him at least.
Old Man's War is an engaging read. It has just the right blend of humor and action to make it worthwhile.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews