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FREE-FIRE ZONE by Chris Lynch


From the Vietnam series, volume 3

by Chris Lynch

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-545-27025-0
Publisher: Scholastic

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)