Lynch’s Vietnam War series concludes with the final narrative of four friends caught in the chaos of war.
Morris, Ivan and Rudi have told their stories; it’s Beck’s turn. Beck, now in the Air Force, was always the smart one, the one bound for college. Upon discovering Beck’s plan to enlist, his father had said, “The universe has better plans for you.” And in Vietnam, Beck does feel as if he has “just been handed the keys to the universe itself.” He is, literally, above it all, as he watches the war from on high in his C-123 aircraft, his goal somehow to not kill anyone as he defoliates forests with Agent Orange. He finds the countryside gorgeous and rues the “danger and destruction in all its variety and in every direction.” Beck’s hope is that when the friends get back together, no matter what else has happened, “the universe will tilt back where it belongs.” This volume lacks the sharp character development and pacing of its predecessors, as much of the narrative concerns all four players and how to contrive the requisite reunion. When it does occur, it brings disastrous results and an abrupt ending to the series.
An excellent war saga that will leave readers feeling they have been through something monumental. (Historical fiction. 10-14)