FREE-FIRE ZONE

From the Vietnam series , Vol. 3

The third installment of Lynch’s Vietnam War series follows Rudi, one of four friends who enlisted at the same time and are now in separate branches of the military.

Friends since fourth grade in Boston, Rudi, Ivan, Morris and Beck pledged to not go to Vietnam voluntarily, but if one received a draft notice, they would all sign up, a friendship bond of a small band of brothers. Morris’ narrative came first, followed by Ivan’s (I Pledge Allegiance, 2011; Sharpshooter, 2012). Here, Rudi relates his experiences in the Marine Corps, where Rudi, always the slow learner thought not to be good at anything, finds something at which he excels: taking orders. Good soldier becomes his identity, until the war takes its toll. Each experience—his first confirmed kill, a serious leg injury, the murder of his lieutenant and his harrowing experience in a tunnel—changes Rudi, until, eventually, he feels the old Rudi is dead, “left him right down in that hole.” The best of the excellent series so far, this volume is more graphic than the first two but still appropriate for the intended audience. Solid character development and deft plotting make this a work that can stand by itself, but with the forthcoming final installment, the completed series will feel monumental indeed. A fine portrayal of friends and war. (Historical fiction. 10-14)    

 

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-27025-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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GUTS

THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HATCHET AND THE BRIAN BOOKS

Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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Although it colorfully examines a horrific disease, only devoted horror enthusiasts are likely to savor this story.

PEOPLE OF THE PLAGUE

From the Horrors of History series

Horror is the dominant feature of this entry in the aptly named Horrors of History series.

Illustrated with numerous period photographs, this fictional effort follows many through the lethal 1918 influenza epidemic in Philadelphia, one of the hardest-hit cities in America. The tale moves smoothly among four sets of protagonists: children residing in a tenement; seminary students involved in burying the numerous dead; those providing medical care in a hospital ward where the mortality rate seems to approach 100 percent; and the head of public health for the city. Anderson (City of the Dead, 2013) uses this look at the epidemic from a variety of points of view to significantly increase the body count. Although rich with historic detail, the narrative is even richer with gruesomeness. Beginning to hemorrhage from the disease, a nurse looks back at the ward: “She saw all the doctors and nurses writhing on the floor as dozens of patients begged for help.” All, instantly afflicted, simultaneously? At one point, a 3-foot-long worm is dragged from a choking patient’s mouth by a gagging nurse. The dead are graphically described, as well: “[H]is body [was] greenish and swollen like a balloon, maggots wriggling under his nostrils and around his eyes.”

Although it colorfully examines a horrific disease, only devoted horror enthusiasts are likely to savor this story. (nonfiction epilogue, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58089-518-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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