This is a book about war and violence and Lloyd Lofthouse doesn’t hold back. He portrays the violence straightforwardly without any fanfare, showing the military and culture clashes and greed for power that lead to torture, rape, and murder. Ethan Card and Price and ARVN Ngyuen stand as men trying to do the right thing in a messed up situation. Ortega isn’t the only man who lacks a moral compass. No, such men run free and plentiful in this book. A key character is Tuyen’s half brother Giap, a sadistic man with a chip on his shoulder concerning Tuyen’s parents. It’s a nitty gritty read, to be sure.
Let’s talk about the sex, both violent and pleasurable (distinctly separate in this book). There are few female characters and those females have one of two roles: 1) Being rescued/protected by a good guy, who they are bedded by; or 2) Being threatened with rape or experiencing rape.
The book didn’t go into any of the Asian cultures mentioned in any great detail, which I had hoped it would. Instead, the book is primarily Americans running around the jungles of Asia perpetrating violence or trying to end it. The characters, once laid out, didn’t change much. The story was heavily action-driven with little development of character or setting. The whole story was steeped in testosterone. The ending was predictable.
So, did I like it? I was sucked in by the nitty gritty feng shui of the book, then repelled by the over use of sexual violence and testosterone dousing. Even though the ending was predictable, I still liked that the good guys won and the bad guys lost. However, the limited roles by the female characters left me feeling that half the story still lies buried and voiceless.