Ghost Brigades is the follow up to Old Man’s War, which I read a while ago but apparently did not review (it’s really good). Although both are set in the same universe, and Ghost Brigade occasionally refers to events that occurred in Old Man’s War, it is not really necessary to have read the one to enjoy the other. Though it does add that extra something.
The Ghost Brigades are super soldiers, and not just any super soldiers. All the human soldiers in this universe are 75 year old humans from Earth who get brand new upgraded bodies with increased speed and strength, synthetic Smartblood, and other nifty toys. But the Ghost Brigades (aka Special Forces) get all sorts of experimental upgrades as well, and they are built from the DNA of adult volunteers who died before they were able to be taken off planet for their basic training. While the “realborn” soldiers have their 75 year old minds transferred into new bodies, the Ghost Brigades are born into adult bodies with brand spanking new minds and no previous experience. Fortunately they have built in computers in their heads to provide them with needed knowledge until they gain their own experiences.
The story revolves around an impending war between humans and 3 alien races who suddenly and for no apparent reason stopped fighting each other and started conspiring against humanity. A Special Forces mission to gain intelligence about this new situation reveals that a human has turned traitor and is working with the aliens. And of course it’s not just any human, but a brilliant scientist who was working on military technology before he turned traitor.
Since I hate giving spoilers, I’ll stop there with the plot description. The book is well written, clever, and uses some cool tech ideas. I especially enjoyed the stuff about consciousness transfer. There are a few info dumps early in the book that were a little irritating since I had previously read Old Man’s War and already knew the info. Of course I might feel differently if the info had been new to me. Like Old Man’s War, this book takes a fairly serious tone, but glimpses of Scalzi’s wicked sense of humor peak through.
Overall I highly recommend this book, as well as Old Man’s War, and pretty much anything else written by John Scalzi.