January 21, 2014

Review: No Surrender Soldier

No Surrender Soldier By Christine Kohler
Available now from Merit Press (F+W Media)
Review copy

It's 1972, and Kiko is a Chamorro boy on Guam living with his mother, father, and a grandfather suffering from dementia.  His older brother is fighting in Vietnam.  Between the Vietnam war and his Tatan's flashbacks, the whole family is remembering what happened during the Japanese occupation, secrets to Kiko (who wasn't born at the time).

The narration flips between Kiko and Seto, a Japanese soldier who hid in the jungle rather than surrender.  Seto has no idea how the war ended since he hasn't interacted with civilization in years.  But his resources are running out and he's getting sloppier, soon to be found or starved.  Much of the tension in NO SURRENDER SOLDIER comes from the wait of the two narrators meeting.

I enjoyed how thoroughly Christine Kohler explores the setting of her debut young adult novel.   The island's history, culture, and climate informs the characters and their actions.  I don't know much about Guam and I didn't know about Japanese stragglers, but this book was a wonderful introduction to them.  I did know about atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers. And I do know about dementia, and appreciated Kiko's frustration.  He doesn't understand why he's stuck babysitting his Tatan while his parents work, why they don't just send him to one of his mom's siblings in America who would put him in a nursing home.  His parents have their reasons, but Kiko isn't totally wrong either.

NO SURRENDER SOLDIER isn't a particularly fast-paced book.  It's very character driven.  It is, however, a fascinating and original bit of historical fiction.  It's well worth picking up, particularly for people looking for Vietnam-era fiction with a different point of view.


Thanks for commenting! To reduce spam I moderate all posts older than 14 days.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...