My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This novel is short, but packed with goodness. Scalzi takes the concept of “redshirts”—expendable characters in science fiction shows—and creates a funny, clever, and “meta” story. It never feels forced, and it’s one of the least “obvious” novels I’ve read; it twisted and turned in directions I never expected, not once but numerous times. The dialog is snappy, and it’s a fast read, both because it’s short and because it’s very difficult to put down. Indeed, even though you’d imagine a novel whose very title plays on character archetypes might rely heavily on tropes, I found the characters well drawn and I cared about them and their fates.
The tag line of the novel mentions the “three codas,” which are basically short stories adding details to the lives of three of the characters we meet late in the novel. I found the first one to be forgettable but I enjoyed the second and third. The codas are not necessary to understand the story, but if you enjoyed the world of Redshirts, you might enjoy them. And I did very much enjoy the world of Redshirts.