Scalzi continues to confound me. I loved [b:The Old Man's War|239399|The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War, #2)|John Scalzi|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1316729668s/239399.jpg|18279845]. I didn't like [b:Redshirts|13055592|Redshirts|John Scalzi|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348617890s/13055592.jpg|18130445] nearly as much, though it was clever and the ideas were sound. However, [b:The Ghost Brigades|239399|The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War, #2)|John Scalzi|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1316729668s/239399.jpg|18279845] was much closer to [b:Fuzzy Nation|9647532|Fuzzy Nation|John Scalzi|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1316132345s/9647532.jpg|18280046] for me. He has this ability to write these books that I enjoy for no real good reason
. The characters are all funny and very much human, which is a very appealing skill. The dialogue ranges from hilarious to at least "good", and the stories tend to move along. Yet, all of his books seem to hit a lull, some point in the middle, where I'm going "Man, I'm not sure if this is like, a 3-star book?" Long stretches where the plots seem to sputter, where he seems to meander off sideways.
And then, like in this book, the ending portion just kicks it up a notch, and you leave the book going "yeah, that was pretty awesome". I'm not going to give a big plot analysis or anything, but I'll say I enjoyed a lot of aspects of this book. It integrated past characters without them taking away from the new ones. It presented a very complicated dilemma, a few plot twists, an evil plan with epic consequences. Not the most original plan, albeit, but worked very well in the framework of Scalzi's unique world. This world, frankly, is fascinating, and the history pieces of it, the political elements, the three-dimensional approach, with no real black or white, no "good guys" and "bad guys". This book focused quite a bit on the negative aspects of the Union, pointed out the reasons people would oppose them, the behind-the-scenes manifest destiny style advancement and oppression and war-mongering. A quick nod to the US politics, for sure.
As I mentioned, as always, Scalzi's characters and dialogue are great. It makes up for them perhaps making questionable decisions, or advancing a bit quickly, etc. I always have several moments in his books where I, at the very least, smile - as well as several laugh out loud moments. The humor isn't exactly subtle, but Scalzi uses a deft hand in dishing it out in a way that doesn't take away from the story, doesn't make serious moments seem flat, or distract from the plot. It's a skill and he's got it.
Ghost Brigades isn't my favorite book. It had a decent stretch in the middle where I was on the fence about it. But the ending was very strong, and I would say I overall enjoyed it. It's another one of those books where I can nitpick at it quite a bit, but in the end I was glad to have read it. I'm glad to continue this series, and I really do enjoy reading his novels. While this isn't The Old Man's War, not many books are.