Review: Redshirts

Red Shirts - John Scalzi

Redshirts was a very fast read, light and funny, but with some depth mixed in here and there also.  It was an especially nice change of pace after my last couple of books which were slower reads for me.  It probably helped that I loved the original Star Trek series, because I was able to appreciate the parody aspect.  Reading this book actually made me want to pull out my TOS Blu-ray discs, and it’s the first time in months that I’ve had the slightest urge to even turn on my TV.  So far I’m resisting the urge, though!  I don’t know if I’d say Star Trek familiarity is a must for appreciating this book, but I do think it would help a lot, especially if you normally like your plots to make sense. 


The story is entertaining and the characters are written well, but the plot is pretty crazy.  I don’t think the plot was ever intended to make sense; it was just supposed to be fun.  In that, it surely succeeded.  Despite the plot silliness, the characters themselves really weren’t too difficult to take seriously and even the story didn’t often feel too over-the-top.  I liked the characters and cared what happened to them.  I’m having trouble explaining my reaction to this book because it somehow felt both silly and not silly at the same time. 



Because of my mixed “silly/not-silly” reaction, I went through most of the book undecided about whether the author was going to stick with the crazy plot explanation he appeared to be working toward from the beginning or if he was going to give it a more serious, believable twist.  I kept half-expecting Scalzi to come up with an explanation that made actual sense, even while suspecting that wouldn’t happen.

(show spoiler)


This was my first time reading anything by Scalzi and I think it gave me a good taste of what he’s capable of.  It wasn’t just the humor that appealed to me, but the way he made me care about the characters and the way he depicted the friendships between them.  I definitely plan to try more of his books at some point in the future.  The main reasons I didn’t rate this higher are: 1) I do prefer plots that make sense and 2) it was just so, so short that I was left wanting a little more meat.  It was still a very enjoyable read and I’m glad I finally tried it.