Once I'd loved [b:Old Man's War|16078572|Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1)|John Scalzi|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1349873151s/16078572.jpg|50700]
, it wasn't going to be long until [b:The Ghost Brigades|8934762|The Ghost Brigades|John Scalzi|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1316128034s/8934762.jpg|18279845]
bubbled to the top of my next-in-series reading list. As a sequel, it lacked a lot of the 'wow' factor of the previous novel – we already know how the CDF works; how the soldiers are 'made'; and that there are a number of alien races out there that just plain don't like us. The one part of the CDF that [a:Scalzi|4763|John Scalzi|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1236228326p2/4763.jpg] held back on a bit in the previous novel was the special forces, or Ghost Brigades. Created as children in even more heavily modified adult bodies (often based on the genetic material of people who died before they could join the CDF) and, obviously, lots of those details come out in this novel. Sadly, while John Perry doesn't appear in this novel (beyond a brief mention) it instead focuses on the special forces solider, Jane Sagan, introduced in the first novel (created from his dead wife as it turned out).
Sagan's unit has been asked to take in a new recruit – a recruit with a difference. Jared Dirac is just like any other special forces soldier: he's the age of a child, but put into the finely tuned body of a CDF soldier. What nobody apart from Sagan knows though is that he's also had the consciousness of a traitor, Charles Boutin, downloaded over his own burgeoning personality. The process doesn't take, but as he's on operations with his unit some memories from that personality start to surface. Will he become a danger to the unit and the CDF, or will his own personality win out...
Scalzi serves us a lot more background in how the Ghost Brigades work. Both the technology that allows them to function at a level above the normal CDF soldiers, but also an insight into the very grey ethics that goes into their creation and continued servitude to the CDF. They are, after all, created by the CDF for the sole purpose of being a dirty-ops group for the CDF. They are born into a contract where their only expectation of escape is to survive long enough to retire. No wonder the CDF is both embarrassed by their existence, but also scared of them as a fighting force. Still, even though the world is already mostly built and we know how it works, Scalzi still manages to create an exciting story with still a few surprise new technical and thought provoking ideas.