The Forever War is the story of a scientist, Mandella, who is recruited to fight a war against the Taurans, an alien species nobody knows much about.
The soldiers travel through collapsars, something like gates to another part of the universe. But to reach the collapsars they have to travel at light speed. This has an important consequence: on Earth time is quicker than on the ship, so when the soldiers arrive back on Earth, some of their relatives and friends are already dead.
There are two main topics in this novel. The first one is how the war affects the soldiers while they are fighting and the second, how they find themselves in a society they no longer fit in once they return to Earth.
Mandella, the main character, starts as a young recruit. He is a completely normal person, like the readers. Suddenly he is in the middle of a war he can’t understand. He is a very realistic character. The reader learns of his fears, worries and wishes. And sees from his point of view how much the Earth has changed when he returns home and when the war ends.
The book shows how this character evolves. At first he is a rather innocent man who hates the people that give him orders and just wants to return home. Throughout the novel he changes, and at some point he is the one giving orders and facing tough decisions regarding the lives of the people he commands.
When he returns home, his younger brother is older than he is and he learns how much society has changed. At first he thinks he can adapt to these changes, but the more he learns, the more he hates what the world has become. At some point he even thinks he has nothing left there.
When he meets somebody who left home a couple hundred years after he did, Mandella learns that the Earth has changed even more. It is now completely unrecognizable.
The descriptions of the planets, weapons, battle suits and the battles are very detailed. This makes it possible to the reader to imagine everything easily, but they are not long enough to make the novel boring.
There is a negative part about this. While it doesn’t bother me, some people may not like all the sometimes very graphic explanations of how the soldiers die.
I enjoyed reading this book and couldn’t put it down, but I found two big negative aspects. One is the kind of words everybody uses. Nobody seems to be able to express themselves without curses. The other is the high amount of sex mentioned. While there aren’t any graphic descriptions of that, it looks like nobody can refrain from sleeping with everybody else.