Friday 16 May 2014

Review ~ A River in May by Edward Wilson.

Title: A River in May.
Author: Edward Wilson.
Genre: War Novel.
Release Date: March 15, 2007.
Source: Bought.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

What happens when a bunch of murderous gringos are let loose on a third-world country? The country is Vietnam and the war has escalated into a technological bloodbath. Lyndon Johnson is in the White House and each night on the network news programmes Americans watch their soldiers returning in their thousands - in plastic body bags.

In Vietnam, Lieutenant Lopez, a twenty-three-year-old American of Mexican origin, has volunteered for a tour of duty to escape not the cocoon of privilege his adoptive parents have wrapped him in, but a personal tragedy in which he is implicated. Lopez has been assigned to a remote border camp defended by a US Special Forces team and by Vietnamese irregulars. At first he regards the war as a personal penance, but is gradually forced out of his self-pity to become aware of the brainless brutality, bleak cynicism and injustice which swirl around him. Lopez starts to shed his layers of acquired identity and culture, and begins to go native.

In this powerful and profoundly disturbing first novel, Edward Wilson poses the question: how far will one individual go to right the wrongs of his country, before betraying his fellow soldiers and comrades? His answer, unexpected and shocking, will remain to haunt the reader long after first reading. This is a Vietnam war novel with a difference, giving voice to the dispossessed.

A River in May is a Vietnam War novel which is not something I’d normally read yet Edward Wilson blew me away with the powerful prose in this book. There’s no escaping that this book handles bleak and harrowing issues but the writing was stunning and this book presents a plot which is not to be ignored.

Lieutenant Lopez is a complex, conflicted character who battles with the horrific realities of war along with his own personal demons too. You can’t read this book expecting heroes and characters you’re going to love but instead, refreshingly real characters who I connected with, regardless of my opinion on them. The characters were written perfectly.

Edward Wilson drew on his own experiences from the Vietnam War when writing A River in May, making this novel much more honest yet equally distressing. The pacing was spot on and the plot, laced with black humour, is shocking yet equally moving. You battle along with Lopez and his guilt, suffering and search for answers. A River in May is a difficult novel to read but very rewarding and so worth it.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon

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