Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Farther Shore

Happy Teen Read Week, everyone! Kristin and I have set a goal to post each day this week. Let's see how that goes. I'm getting the ball rolling by recommending The Farther Shore by Matthew Ecks.

Okay, I have to admit this one is not a teen title. However, it's a short, fast read and one that will appeal to readers looking for a war or army novel. So many of the ones written for teens seem to narrate war from a distance, war-as-hapless-spectator/Holocaust victim/girl-left-behind-while-love-interest-goes to war, etc. (Notable exceptions are Soldier X, Private Peaceful, Fallen Angels. . . okay, maybe there are more action ones that I have led you to believe.) Anyway, The Farther Shore is a harrowing tale of a young army soldier fighting a confusing battle (for what and why?) in an unnamed country against an unnamed enemy. Subject headings say this book is about Somalia and the author served in Somalia while in the army himself but it doesn't specifically name Somalia in the book. This confusion lends to the nightmarish aspect of the book.

The nightmare begins when Joshua Stantz and a handful of other soldiers are cut off from the rest of their battalion. Things go horribly wrong after a small group of locals fires on them in the building they have been using as a temporary base. The Army men fire back, and when the smoke clears they realize they have killed some young teenagers. When the locals find out, a high price will be on the heads of this handful of soldiers. . . and the Army hasn't come back for them yet. When the helicopters finally do arrive to pick them up, insurgents fire, and the copters leave without the soldiers. Left in a hostile city, victims of heat, hunger, sand, and fire, Joshua and his fellows try to find their way back to safety. Injured and in jeopardy, the line between comrade and enemy blurs almost beyond recognition.

Highly recommended.

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