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This book is a collection of short stories. Each story makes its point but leaves you with something to consider. The author does not preach but offers a perspective the each and every main character's POV in each short. This offers us the opportunity to experience the circumstances first hand and unfiltered. Some of the stories are more traumatic than others. There is a touch of gruesomeness of war, but no more than you would find in a Steven King novel and these stories are real. I like the book precisely because it make you think instead of telling you how it is.
Although the narrator is good, the transition from one story to the next sometimes jars you as the narrator switch personas without changing voice. It would have been more effective if there were two narrators alternating each short.
The other thing that will be a little challenging is understanding all of the three letter acronyms. For example FOB mean forward operating base. Luckily I have a good grip on the vocabulary, but for some, you are going to have to use the Internet. My wife, daughter, and boyfriend of daughter are reading it while I listened. It is a part of our book circle. My daughter's boyfriend recommended it and it has been a excellent choice. I would recommend for a club setting. Those you loved Kite Runner may find this book interesting. I give it a thumbs up.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
I was in the public library the other day and in the "quick reads" display there was a row of romance novels with pictures of male torsos and stories about tormented Navy SEALs and the women who love them. Under that shelf was a row of books with men in military garb with titles like "SEAL team 6: Under fire!". Under that shelf...yup...zombies and I'll stop there. I'm not against military fantasy but it's good to have some exposure to experiences closer to the reality of war and this group of stories delivers on that.
This is not an easy read, the stories are tough to read and there are some really disturbing moments. Some of the POV characters are not very likable and I appreciate that Klay is not trying to manipulate readers into liking all of these guys because it's not about that. It's really about getting a glimpse of what is going on in these people's lives who are sent to war.
I appreciated the soldier reaction to dealing with the mythos of soldiering including civilian preoccupation with all soldiers having PTSD, the sex appeal of men in uniform, and Americans thanking soldiers for their service whenever they see them in uniform.
The Foreign Service Officer story is my favorite as I was interested in joining the Foreign Service a few years ago. Hilarious and absurd. The supporting characters in this story are particularly entertaining; the jaded professor-translator, the hyper-positive assistant trying to make the world a better place, the major who competently plays the political game, and the consultant with the practical advice. All the supporting characters wiser than the protagonist who is in charge of the operation. This story would make a great book.
The only issue I had...not crazy about the narrator, the POV characters are different from each other in spirit and experience; he didn't always capture that. I still gave a high overall score because I could live with it.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful