Book Review: John Scalzi – Redshirts – Did I miss something?

Let me start with saying I’m not a John Scalzi basher. I read his blog and for the most part I enjoy what he posts. I read Old Man’s War a long time back and thought it was an okay book. Interesting concept. Adequately told. Just not really my cup of tea. Also keep in mind that I’m not the kind of person that likes bashing a book just for the sake of bashing a book, but because this one has so many great reviews, and awards, I have to wonder…Did I miss something?

I bought the RedShirts ebook thinking this is something new by him. It’s won awards. Been nominated for others. The thing that got me to actually finish this book was that the audio book version was read by Wil Wheaton. As I said, I like John for reasons other than his writing. Wil Wheaton could read the phone book and I would enjoy listening to him. His reading of Ready Player One was brilliant. I had downloaded the sample of chapters 1-4 and thought he really had something here.

Sadly, the only reason I finished this book at all was because of the narration. Wil did a fantastic job reading this book even though ‘said’ was probably the #1 word in the book. Enough that it was like nails in my brain every time I heard ‘said’ over and over and over again.

The writing was okay. The humor, well, if Wil hadn’t been reading it I think it would have fallen flat for me. I giggled at a couple points (sadly only in chapter 1 and 2), but there were no surprising, laugh out loud moments that, based on other reviews, I went in expecting. I mean, award-winning sci-fi here! Am I missing the entire point? It felt, to me, like bad fan fiction with better grammar and decent editing and an actual plot.

Honestly, the short stories after the main part of the book were better, but felt like bloated afterthoughts. Long rambles just to try and up the word count.

As I said, if it hadn’t been for Wil, I would never have finished this book. I’m sad it won awards when so many far better books lost out.

Was it a complete waste of time? No more than sitting and watching a home improvement show or a cooking show would be, and only slightly less entertaining. If I had only ever read Chapter 1, I think I would have loved this book. Everything that followed just kept going downhill at an accelerated rate.

I think Scalzi really wanted to write something that would resonate with Trek Fans, play up the tropes, and have fun. I’m sure he did, but overall it felt awkward, clumsy, and an effort I was not expecting from one of the top sci-fi writers out there in the world today. Like I said, I gave it a shot because I like John’s blog and I like what he stands for. Sadly, this book was a miss for me. Sorry John. I’m hopeful his next book will be a better effort.

Until Next Time!


Posted on January 30, 2014, in Book Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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