Top critical review
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on 24 October 2011
I had fairly high hopes for this book considering The Loop and The Smoke Jumper would both have a good chance of making my favourite books list. A few folk that I speak to in the library had told me that it was a dud and so I didn't rush into reading it when it came out last year. While it isn't Evans' best, I still enjoyed it a lot and I'm glad I finally read it.
Like with his other novels, the storyline is a little far-fetched and a tad over the top, but that is something that has never bothered be before and certainly never bothered me when reading this. If I'm being honest, I actually rather like the melodrama and enjoy the fact he writes a good tale without bogging it down too much with gritty realism. That's not to say the storylines individually are unrealistic, for example his son being charged with the murder of civilians during war is certainly something that you could read in the newspaper tomorrow, it's just that all of this happening at once, to one character and ending the way it does? Possibly not. But, like I said above, I pick up a book of this type not wanting to be depressed by how realistic it all read. I pick it up to enjoy the story and for it to hopefully be tied up in a neat little bow at the end.
I also enjoyed how the story was told in alternating chapters of Tom's past and present and how we start the book with Tommy visiting his sister in prison but not knowing until the very end how she got there. Keeping the reader hanging on the end of each chapter is usually hit and miss for me but here it worked for me rather than irk me. Although I did see the outcome of Tommy and Diane's story a mile away, I didn't know how the story of Dan, Tom's son, was going to end. The tales of his time in war and how the civilians came to die did make for grim reading but it had believability around it. Who hasn't read snippets of a soldier's stories from Iraq or Afghanistan?
Tom was a somewhat complex character, as you would hope when an entire novel is centred almost entirely around him, but I felt some of the supporting characters were a little flat and underdeveloped which is what makes it a bit inferior when you compare it to Evans' other novels.
Despite a few minor problems, The Brave is a novel I enjoyed from an author I always look forward to reading.