Book Review: The Last Colony

The Last Colony is set in the same sci-fi universe as some of John Scalzi’s other books, like Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades. It also features the same hero, John Perry, joined again by his ex-supersoldier wife, Jane Sagan. And like those other books, this one deals largely with the macro-level drama of the human race’s (or really the Colonial Union, which calls most of the shots on behalf of humanity) frantic quest to stay alive and propagate in an unfriendly universe rife with competition for limited resources.

But not right away. At the beginning of the book, Perry and Sagan are retired from the military, mostly enjoying their lives on a pastoral planet and raising their adopted teenage daughter. Soon they’re convinced to help seed a new planetary colony, but it becomes quickly apparent that the Colonial Union is playing them crooked and using them as an expendable pawn in an attempt to outmaneuver The Conclave, a coalition of other races bent on putting a stop to colonization by non-member races such as the humans. The Conclave welcomes everybody to join its team, but otherwise plays really rough, so things get dirty and the two heroes have to figure out how to survive the situation.

I like Scalzi’s stuff, but The Last Colony is easily my least favorite book in this series so far. What I liked about the earlier works was that they were all about adventure, genetically and technologically modified supersoldiers, nanotech, and fightin’ dudes. The Last Colony has a bit of that in spots, but far too much of the book contained simple talking heads. There’s even one stretch where we’re actually watching Perry watch a video of two talking heads, so you kind of get a double down effect. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit boring in places. Scalzi drew some parallels about Western imperialism and colonization that were a bit on the nose, but they were generally interesting and it was fun to see if you could figure out what (if any) message was there about the American empire (i.e., the Colonial Union) and its chances of standing against a world set against it (i.e., The Conclave, a.k.a, the United Nations).

So The Last Colony isn’t bad, but it’s not as enjoyable as the other books I’ve read so far. I’m going to continue reading the series, though, in the hopes that Scalzi returns to form.

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One thought on “Book Review: The Last Colony

  1. Make sure you read Zoe’s Tale. It’s considered a teen fiction book, but it’s a great part of the series.

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