Ok, where to begin…..this novel was solid. Not a classic, not stupendous, not a Mark-Twain-and Jane-Austen-have-nothing-on-me kind of book. But it was solid, nonetheless. The good and the bad seemed to kind of balance each other out. In some parts, in was exciting, invigorating, and refreshing. At other parts, it was just plain dull. Sometimes the sentences were awkward and distorted, but sometimes they flowed as a much more experienced writer had written them. Some parts, especially the end, were powerful and raw. Some were tired and emotionless. I liked how MacQuarrie tried a wide range of characters that could be easily connected with and understood—it seemed to make the novel move along at a better pace. It was also very realistic and in-your-face current. Considering that this is MacQuarrie’s debut novel, I believe it is a good solid read for anyone who is interested in military fiction or just looking for a bit of action in their novels.
“So maybe this war was a waste. Maybe it was nothing more than a contest between a bunch of rich old men. Maybe Stephen’s life didn’t mean anything to them. Maybe none of their lives meant anything to them.”
I would recommend this book was ages twelve and up, for some mild swearing, some sexual references, alcohol consumption, and a plot thread about drugs that runs throughout this book. There is also a situation where the subject of sexual orientation is debated, so if that bothers you or your child, I warn you now. To be clear, this book does talk about faith in God and Jesus Christ, so if you are sensitive to that issue, too, you may want to refrain from reading this novel.
So, will Stephen and Ryan each find what their looking for—spiritually, emotionally, and mentally? Or will they even get out of the war alive? Read Here Dead We Live by A.M.H. MacQuarrie to find out!