- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 316 KB
- Print Length: 146 pages
- Publisher: M.W. Duncan; 1 edition (9 April 2013)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00CAO35UG
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #581,191 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Only The Dead: An African War Kindle Edition
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There is an immersive writing style at work here which I prize in a writer when I can find it. This writing style along with plenty of interesting events happening all the time (a fast pace plot) quickly drew me in.
You feel like you are in the Liberian jungle with Mark.
It is often the case that an immersive writing style comes coupled with plodding slow plot progression. That is not the case here.
The real treat in this story is the well observed and well developed characters. It's all about Mark (sometimes called Mak) a private security operator (don't call him a mercenary) and his relationship with Kyle a journalist in the Liberian jungle during a civil war. Things go bad and they have to escape to civilisation. A simple enough concept done well and infused with human psychology. The story is told in the first person from Mark's perspective. The way the relationship evolves between the two men as their situation becomes darker is beautifully handled with turning points in the action and their relationship coming at well-timed points in the story. It feels realistic and believable. It is sometimes quite touching without going over the top with sentimentality. Perhaps the presence of violence in the story highlights this further.
From an academic perspective I am fairly sure I can see a story structure I recognise at work here. The right things are happening in the right phases of the story which is complete with plot points in the right places that keep up the dramatic tension. It is very well done.
M W Duncan has another "post-apocalyptic" novel out "Carrion City" set in Aberdeen Scotland I believe. It's not the kind of novel I'm normally drawn to but after reading Only The Dead I'm thinking I need to add it to my "to be read list" for some time next year.
The story revolves around Mark, a foreign “consultant” tasked with training a company of Liberian rebel fighters near the front line. But when government forces seize control of the Zorzor training ground, Mark must use all his training to escape to safety and protect a naive reporter who finds himself in the midst of the chaos. Led by a tyrannical warlord and with fighting lines blurring all around them, the pair learn that there is more to fear in the jungle than just the enemy.
Let’s be clear, this book is not for the faint-hearted. Duncan pulls no punches with his visceral and brutal account of the art of war. His descriptions of bloody fighting and unsanitary conditions, when juxtaposed with the beauty of the Liberian landscapes, paint the conflict in a vivid detail that draws the reader in from the onset.
The story is fast-paced and action packed. Tension is rife and the author does an excellent job in maintaining it throughout. Every release is momentary, lasting just long enough for the reader to catch their breath before they are thrust, alongside the characters, into danger once again.
Central to the story’s human aspect theme is the interaction and developing relationship between Mark and the reporter, Kyle. Their conflicting viewpoints and experiences of war provide another mechanism for increasing the novella’s tension whilst their, at times, petty squabbles add to its comic relief.
The book itself had me gripped from the off and I found myself unable to put it down. The simple language utilised by the author is unimposing, allowing the reader to become fully absorbed in the story. My only criticisms are with the, sometimes, clunky dialogue and that the story left me feeling that it would have benefitted from ending a chapter or two earlier. Yet, it is so well told that both of these things can be easily forgiven.
I urge any of you with an interest to check it out. You’ll be glad you did.
Only the dead is told from the perspective of the main character, Mark, thus providing an intense first person perspective of the situation as it unfolds. Mark appears to have developed an acceptance to the horrors around him, such as the violent beating of prisoners, child-soldiers bearing arms and endless bloody conflicts. The secondary character, Kyle, is clearly very naïve and would reflect the typical Western opinion of the war in Africa of disgust and outrage. It is this relationship which I find most interesting in the story as the author uses both characters to emphasise the contrasting opinions of the West and Africa toward the civil war, this is very much a war fought in Africa by Africans for Africans and the opinions of the West carry very little weight in the warzone by the opposing leaders and those caught up in the conflict.
As for writing style, the story is generally very well written and I found it very easy to be captivated. There were a couple of paragraphs which I feel could have been rewritten and improved but these are few and far between.
I would say as a developing author, this work shows great promise for the future. The author has clearly researched this emotive war and created a work which reflects the horrors of the Second Liberian War
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