Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

Book #14: Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker

Number of pages: 360

This book certainly felt very experimental for one good reason.

It is written from the point of view of inanimate objects; each chapter is told by a different object that features in the scene, as though it were a sentient being, telling the story in the first person, and sometimes in the second person, addressing the character in the story directly. So, one chapter will be told by a bag of fertiliser, and another will be told by a mirror.

Sometimes the novels spells out what object is narrating, and in others you have figure out from the verbal clues given in the narrative.

This sounds like, and is, a bizarre premise, although the overall plot is much more simple. The story is set during the conflict in the Middle East, with a few separate storylines running through the novel, that don't really touch upon each other.

First off, there is the story of a soldier named Tom (as we learn about a third of the way through the book) who has been injured in battle, and who ends up with both his legs being amputated. The story tells mainly of how Tom copes with the drastic change in his life and the effect being disabled has on him.

There is another story involving two friends who grew up in the war zone; one of the friends has a father who is aiding the British troops, while the other friend is a jihadi. This plot has quite a shocking twist towards the end, which I won't give away here.

Overall, this is quite a straightforward story, with a plot that moves forward quite slowly; I enjoyed reading about the characters, although there were only a few named ones, and many nameless ones who it wasn't easy to care about much, although that might have been the intention. I noticed that most of the characters were referred to by squadron numbers rather than names by the objects telling the stories.

I thought this book was reasonably enjoyable, though I didn't really get the gimmick of telling it through the eyes of inanimate objects; maybe there was some point, but if there was, I missed it.

Next book: Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman)
Tags: book review, contemporary, fiction, grief, gritty, military, post-modern, war

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