I loved Zoe's Tale. It retells the exact same story I just read in The Last Colony, but tells it from the perspective of Zoe Boutin-Perry, a sarcastic, resourceful teenage girl who just happens to find herself in the middle of an inter-species conflict with an alliance of aliens. It fills in all the gaps that I noticed or subjects about which I wanted more information after The Last Colony.
The best thing about the book was Zoe's voice. It was light and snappy and utterly sarcastic in a way that I really identify with. Not everyone will, of course, but if you like to see a strong, witty female character in the middle of science fiction (which I do, A LOT) then this is a book for you. This is a science fiction adventure, but also a meditation on what it means to be a leader rather than a hero or a celebrity and about growing into your place in the world and the people who love you. The scenes between Zoe and her father (written, of course, by a man who highly identifies with the father) were truly beautiful in their combination of cleverness and affection. Now, I'm not necessarily claiming that this is an "authentic" teenage girl voice; I'm a little dubious about that, but I love it nonetheless.
My one complaint about this book is that it follows exactly the timeframe and most of the events from The Last Colony, which you will note that I read not long ago. Which means it took about 150 pages to get to any event that was really new to me. Seeing events from Zoe's perspective was interesting, but the events themselves were too fresh in my memory. I wish I had waited a year or so between these two books so there was some time for the details to fade in my memory.
I would LOVE to talk to people who read Zoe's Tale as a stand-alone novel, or people more familiar with the voice of a teenage girl (like, say, actual teenage girls). I'd love to know how this novel worked for other people. So would John Scalzi.