Book Review – The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

The blurb remembers:

The Ghost Brigades are the Special Forces of the Colonial Defense Forces, elite troops created from the DNA of the dead and turned into the perfect soldiers for the CDF’s toughest operations. They’re young, they’re fast and strong, and they’re totally without normal human qualms.

The universe is a dangerous place for humanity–and it’s about to become far more dangerous. Three races that humans have clashed with before have allied to halt our expansion into space. Their linchpin: the turncoat military scientist Charles Boutin, who knows the CDF’s biggest military secrets. To prevail, the CDF must find out why Boutin did what he did.

Jared Dirac is the only human who can provide answers — a superhuman hybrid, created from Boutin’s DNA, Jared’s brain should be able to access Boutin’s electronic memories. But when the memory transplant appears to fail, Jared is given to the Ghost Brigades.

At first, Jared is a perfect soldier, but as Boutin’s memories slowly surface, Jared begins to intuit the reason’s for Boutin’s betrayal. As Jared desperately hunts for his “father,” he must also come to grips with his own choices. Time is running out: The alliance is preparing its offensive, and some of them plan worse things than humanity’s mere military defeat…

Overall this is a pretty good book, taking us into the Ghost Brigades that were teased in the first book.

What makes it more interesting than just basic military sci-fi is the plotline about putting the mind of a traitor into a genetically engineered soldier and letting him loose.  This is also kind of a weakness to the story because it’s obviously such a bad idea that I can’t imagine generals with a hundred years’ experience making such a terrible decision.

The book only touches on the first book in the series a bit – the main character from the first book is mentioned a couple times and a secondary character from the first book is also a secondary character in this one.  This has the effect of expanding the universe that the series takes place in while still feeling cohesive.

I like that the book didn’t have a Hollywood ending, but it did unambiguously clear up who the good guys and bad guys were which I think would have been interesting to leave hanging.

I get the impression that this series is either a tribute to or spoof of Heinlein, but I can’t really tell which.