Book Review: Forever Free – Joe Haldeman


Ex-military from a war spanning hundreds of years! Sounds interesting to me. How about eking out a life on a cold harsh planet?! This could be pretty awesome I thought.

Joe Haldeman’s Forever Free is the direct sequel to the ‘Forever War’. A book I have never read, but had meant to. ‘Forever War’ apparently is regarded as one of the great scifi novels. So when one day at a second-hand book shop I found one of the follow ups for a ridiculously low price, I snapped it up.

Okay so I’ve not read ‘Forever War’, I probably should have, probably would have added more depth. Anyhow I remember a while back taking Forever Free off my bookshelf it and reading a few pages. It wasn’t how I imagined the book would be. I found the first few pages rather dull so back on the bookshelf it went.

Then recently I was browsing at the books lining the shelves and thought it was time I showed more patience with this book. I again struggled with the first dozen or so pages, but then began to find the book interesting. I started wondering about the possibilities, what was going to come next.

Centred around William and his family in a small community, it showed how people essentially orphaned from their time period were trying to cope. William and his wife, two of many ex-military who had fought in a war and had returned centuries later. Returned to a humanity that had changed into something they don’t like and which have isolated them on a harsh planet

The book shows them trying to cope on a world not Earth, governed by humans they don’t like. Their children born of the current times sharing many of the ‘current’ humanities views and end up struggling with their parents views and ultimately their parents ambitions. Some of the ex-military decide to take action and William and his wife Marygay are at the forefront of this.

Science fiction this book might be, but this book was not a tech feast, thought it did mention AI and spaceships. It was a story of struggle, survival and freedom. It was just when I was coming to terms with this that the problem happened.

I realized I was coming to the end of the book and it didn’t seem to be wrapping up. Conclusions were not rolling in, it was just moving along and I thought perhaps it was going to be continued in another book.

Though within a few pages I felt the book had derailed and suddenly thrown in two new elements. Elements I felt that should have been placed much earlier in the book. In the end I just felt robbed of a good ending to a storyline that showed potential.

The ending was so bad in my humble opinion it ruined the whole book for me. I hugely regret reading this book and will be giving it to charity, where perhaps someone who did read the ‘Forever War’ will find something of value.

Back in January I read and reviewed Joe Haldeman’s ‘The Accidental Time Machine’, which I hugely enjoyed. Please check out that review and book instead.


2 Responses

  1. Tristan

    2nd November 2011 7:40 pm

    Dude, I totally agree. The ending of Forever Free definitely ruined the book for me, but it was excellent up until they got to that point. Still though, The Forever War is stand-alone enough in that it can be read without a sequel and is, in my opinion, one of the best sci-fi novels ever written. Definitely worth checking out! Give war a chance. 🙂

  2. Andrew

    16th November 2011 8:21 am

    Hi Tristan,

    Cheers for the comment and feedback. What a let down the ending was! I will take your advice and give ‘the forever war’ a chance, and read it soon.

    Thank you for stopping by.



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