Old Man’s War by John Scalzi – An Audio Book Review

Old Man's War


At 75 years old, John Perry is after a fresh start – so, naturally, he joins the army. Earth’s military machine can transform elderly recruits, restoring their lost youth. But in return, its Colonial Defence Force demands two years of hazardous service in space. This is how Perry finds himself in a new body crafted from his original DNA. A genetically enhanced and upgraded new body, ready for battle. But upgrades alone won’t keep Perry safe. He’ll be fighting for his life on the front line as he defends humanity’s colonies from hostile aliens. He’ll pay the price for his choices, and he’ll discover the universe is even more dangerous than he imagined.

Author: John Scalzi

Narrator: William Dufris

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Publishers Itd

Audio Release Date: 21/03/2017

Running Time: 9hrs 55mins

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Old Man’s War #1

My Rating of ‘Old Man’s War’: 3 out of 5

Purchase: Audible, Amazon


This is my first foray into John Scalzi’s work and, despite only giving it a three out of five, it shan’t be my last.

Old Man’s War was a wonderful blend of a solid, eye-catching concept and old fashioned science fiction fun.

It starts of well and really gets the reader close to the main character via the act of visiting his grave and all of the touching emotional vibes that go with it. It moves on at what would be considered a ‘normal’ pace until the second half of the book …in which the pacing seems to flip from real time to a ‘I just kind of need this to happen now, and then this needs to happen shortly after, so I’ll throw my pacing to the wind’ kind of feel.

I feel the first third of the book was head and shoulders above the middle and that the end brought it back up to its lofty heights once more. The reason the middle was a bit of a sore point for me was because it was filled with random encounters/battles with throwaway alien races or short memory bits that started a chapter off with ‘so and so died during the battle of <insert name here>’. That kind of killed the fun for me as it took all shock of a character death out of the equation.

Still, that was quickly remedied with overarching plot points coming back into play and the unveiling of new and intriguing aspects of the world Scalzi was creating. I felt as though I was left wanting more and I look forward to carrying on with the series, despite a few flaws.

Some flaws (the middle of the book) have already been mentioned. Another big one for me was the speech. The conversations were fine and felt natural. But Scalzi’s addiction to ending EVERYTHING with ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ gets very old and very grating, very fast. Even some questions are ended with ‘so and so said’. Shaking up the speech tags a little would have gone a long way into making the book flow better. With so many he saids etc … it just kind of felt a bit stilted and harsh on the flow/pacing of the novel.

My only other real flaw was one aspect of the narration. Overall, the narrator was very good. The only real downside was the cadence of his speech was very similar despite the situation. For instance he might say something like ‘and then I took a chainsaw to the testicles’ in the same manner he might recall a fond memory with his wife. It just felt like the right emotions weren’t being conveyed at the right time in certain places. This is, however, only a minor downside as it isn’t overly frequent. It is, however, very noticeable when it pops up.

10 thoughts on “Old Man’s War by John Scalzi – An Audio Book Review

      1. Cool, same guy does the rest (except for Zoe’s Tale, of course). Hmmmm I still need to read 5 & 6. Don’t think they were out when I ran through the series before

        Liked by 1 person

  1. It was clearly inspired by Haldeman’s The Forever War and not as good, but I remember liking it and reading up to book 3 – I have book 4 in my Audible library, so I will continue at some point.
    I have to admit I don’t remember much, I’ll have to refresh my memory before I start “Zoe’s Tale”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve made a convincing case for readjusting some content of a book before turning it into an audio version. The “he said” and other conversational topics that were irritating you in this audio version are probably not that grating in a text edition.


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