Friday, August 16, 2019

Book Review: 'Our War' by Craig DiLouie

Our War by Craig DiLouie

When politics fail…

American-Canadian author/journalist/educator Craig DiLouie has published many novels in the genres of thriller, apocalyptic horror and sci-fi fantasy fiction, winning many awards and securing a wide audience. But one area of focus that goes unmentioned is his uncanny ability to create novels about the causes, impact, and devastation of war. His insights into the origin of conflict and the manner in which war distorts and polarizes society, though depicted as fiction, is as fine as any novelist writing today. He lives in Calgary, Canada.

OUR WAR is a fine example of Craig’s unique talent. He creates a quasi-fictional setting, polishes his characters with vivid realism, opens avenues of conflict in both warring terms and interpersonal, familial stances and the result is a novel that becomes as credible as contemporary news.

Character painting in Craig’s hands is an art, as even the spare opening lines of his book serve as witness: ‘Every week Hannah asked her mother when the war would end. Soon, Mom always said, which her child’s mind translated as, Longer than you want. The war had taken her home, friends, and family. If it didn’t end soon, it might take everything. Ten months ago, Hannah and her mother arrived at the refugee camp at Indiana Convention Center…Rough living, the days suspended between tension and tedium, but it was safer than outside….’ In that brief passage the tone and direction of the novel is set, and the reader has been sufficiently seduced into this terrifying world.

Craig’s plot outline succinctly condenses the scope of the story: ‘After his impeachment, the president of the United States refuses to leave office, and the country erupts into a fractured and violent war. Orphaned by the fighting and looking for a home, 10-year-old Hannah Miller joins a citizen militia in a besieged Indianapolis. In the Free Women militia, Hannah finds a makeshift family. They'll teach her how to survive. They'll give her hope. And they'll show her how to use a gun. Hannah's older brother, Alex, is a soldier too. But he's loyal to other side, and has found his place in a militant group of fighters who see themselves as the last bastion of their America. By following their orders, Alex will soon make the ultimate decision behind the trigger. On the battlefields of America, Hannah and Alex will risk everything for their country, but in the end they'll fight for the only cause that truly matters - each other.’

Despite the subject of war and the tension associated with this particular recreation of an updated American civil war, Craig DiLouie’s prose is eloquent, deeply compelling, and poses a possibility that alerts us to protect our world against such possibilities as depicted in this imaginative story. It touches many chords of recognition, and that is yet another trait of a brilliant writer. Highly recommended. 

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.