Review – The Human Division by John Scalzi
by Jon Page - March 18th, 2014
Firstly, WOW! John Scalzi has already blown my mind with Redshirts and the previous Old Man’s War series but his new book is something else. For any literary snob that still looks down on genre writers I pity you because the way Scalzi has constructed this novel is something to behold.
The Human Division was originally released in 13 parts, over 13 weeks. Think your favourite TV series and you’ll understand the structure. Each part is an episode that pretty much stands alone but bound together forms a story arc that comes to a climax in the season finale. I really wanted to read this week by week but, for one reason or another, my reading life didn’t seem to make room. But just like a TV series I totally binged on all 13 episodes at once. And having now been “renewed” for a “second season” I will definitely be reading week-by-week next time.
Each of Scalzi’s previous Old Man’s War books have explored different aspects of the universe he has created; The Colonial Defense Force’s recruiting process, their special forces and colonization. In The Human Division Scalzi explores the murky and high stakes world of diplomacy in the universe. Not only must the CDF navigate delicate negotiations with hundreds of different alien species they also must deal with The Conclave who are trying to put an end to unmitigated colonization. This is complicated by the fact that, thanks to John Perry, Earth wants more of a say now in universal affairs.
Harry Wilson, who was a back seat character in the previous books takes centre stage but the episodic structure means we also explore and visit many different characters, old and new, as well as a variety of fascinating, hilarious and intriguing storylines. I loved the previous four books in this series but I think this might be my favourite novel of all. Scalzi’s universe contains a rich plethora of stories to explore each more beautifully complicated than the last and I’m chomping at the bit for season two!