The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

Do you enjoy reading books with a likeable, sarcastic cast? How about ones with politics spanning multiple worlds and huge empires that seem on the brink of crumbling?

Then do I have the book for you.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi is, like most Scalzi novels, fun.

It’s a cast of adventurers in space with charming, if somewhat crass, personalities. All who have their flaws and qualities that make them more than the caricatures they could have been.

Some are likeable, like Marce Clarmont, whose mild mannered-good-guy routine is played against the intrigue of life at court with hilarious and often heart-breaking results. Or like Kiva Lagos, who is likeable because you cannot stop laughing when she is on the page. Her seemingly utter lack of tact is a delight, though I feel I must put a warning here; if you don’t like swearing, skip this book. I think Kiva says the F-word over one hundred times – that’s a rough estimate, but I would be surprised if it were less.

And even the hateable characters are likeable in their own way. Like all the best villains you must be able to empathise with them, and the way the Nohamapetan’s stumble under the pressure of their parents and the society they had a hand in creating, is endearing, even accounting for the utterly detestable things they do.

To describe The Collapsing Empire as fun and leave it at that would be doing it a disservice. This is a book with something to say and it says it clearly. A mirror to society today and the path of relentless consumption that we appear to be on, this book is a warning about what such mindless greed can and will cause, our own destruction.

One would have to be purposefully ignoring the message and theme of the book to miss it, however, don’t let that fool you into thinking that Scalzi stands on a pedestal and preaches, screaming into your face.

The Collapsing Empire will make you laugh and cry, worming its way into your heart before it reaches up into your head.

This book is fun, silly, heartfelt, and smart. It might not be for you, but I would give it a try. If you want a great example of fast paced action-adventure science fiction, this is it.

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