I loved the premise of Redshirts, in which the characters realize the following: “(1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed. Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission” (source). The building of this world is hilarious as Scalzi calls out sci-fi TV shows for all the unbelievable little things they do. Unfortunately, I didn’t think there was much to the plot. It wasn’t especially interesting to me and after the setup, the humor mostly disappeared. The premise was brilliant, the execution largely forgettable.
Portrait of a Spy seemed like every other thriller in this series to me. It was reasonably fast-paced and enjoyable, but there wasn’t much depth. I felt like both the terrorist plot and our protagonist’s attempts to stop it were predictable things we’ve seen before. I like that there were Muslim good guys and Muslim bad guys, since I think muslim does not equal terrorist is a good message to send. I also liked that the plot seemed relevant to today’s world. However, most of what happened depended on our hero making some unbelievable mistakes and there really wasn’t much too this story. A good read if you’re looking for a light thriller, but not anything out of the ordinary.