review by Maryom
Ellie is on her first tour of duty as an army medic in Afghanistan but no amount of training could have prepared her for the reality of life there. She finds herself immediately plunged in at the deep end with roadside bombs and bullets whizzing past. Through the hail of bullets wanders a young Afghan girl, seemingly unafraid and unharmed. Trying to find out who this girl is and why she is there leads Ellie into dangerous mountain country, home to armed gangs and Taliban supporters.
I've read quite a few novels - aimed at both teens and adults - with some or all of the story set in Afghanistan and this is the first that really made me feel I was there. Massey succeeds in capturing the overpowering heat, freezing nights, dust and stark beauty of the country; the fear, camaraderie and bravery of the soldiers. He manages throughout to avoid the politics of the situation and concentrates on telling a gripping story with a slight supernatural twist. Ellie and her fellow soldiers are real young people engaged in something that is not quite what they expected, though I found my heart going out more to the Afghan children caught up in a war that seems 'normal' to them.
It's a slightly strange mix of female lead in what may be considered a 'male' story-setting, though I grew up reading real life WW2 exploits (Dad's library books) rather than romantic fiction (Mother's). Overall an excellent debut novel that I'd recommend to all teens/young adults with a liking for action adventure.
Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Chicken House
Genre - war, teen/YA /adult
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