This is an absolutely fantastic book!! I nearly didn't buy it because of the provocative cover, assuming that it was perhaps just a military-themed, sex novel. How wrong I would've been.
Although I struggled initially with gaining an understanding of the military ranks and US army policy (this book is written very much with the view point that the reader already knows) I was soon sucked in and blown about by the wonderful story, characters and pace of the book.
There are distinct flashes of Dan Brown brillence in the text and structure of the story, with several different strands interweaving to become part of the core plot. Also the sense of dread and impending doom is never very far, despite the various twists and turns which may swing you off course.
Basically the novel follows a series of gay friends (all military personnel) at the start of the Clinton presidency and the fallout from his campaign promise to remove the ban on homosexuals serving in the armed forces. The characters are well developed although my only slight criticism would be that they're not well described but this may have been on purpose by the author so that the reader will envision their own image of each character.
A major (and completedly unexpected event) about two-thirds of the way through really throws the story open and brings things to a head, upping the pace and dragging you along.
I really cannot recommend this book enough - it isn't just another gay-focused story, although the central themes of intolerence and descrimation are. I have no doubts that the author is present in the text, as he draws on his own experiences in the US Marines and I think this adds a real dimenison to the text.
This is not a literary book but as an analysis of being gay in the US Armed Services around the time of Clinton's initial Presidency it is an entertaining light read. The relationships are a bit tacky but if you are the 'sentimental looking for a LTR type' then this novel may well appeal. Full of descriptions of hunky marines who virtually surprise surprise are gay. Although there is a gay/straight friendship to give a contemporary touch most of the novel seems to be 'the closet v the uncloseted' gay man which is realistic given the book's subject matter. The author was a marine from 1985 to 1998.
Honestly, I found it really difficult to keep up with the conversations between some of the characters. I'm sure in the authors mind these all made perfect sense, and im sure as a screen play (which I would hope something of this calibre one day becomes) it would all gel together nicely, but trying to follow some of the characters interactions on paper (or e-ink) was a bit of a challenge for me. On more than one occasion I had to backtrack and read, reread and reread again so that I knew who said what and when. Then in complete contrast, other parts of the book were a complete breeze. Easy on the eyes, on the mind. Sucked me into the world he created. If you are looking for a totally uncomplicated read, I think you can just about get through this with maybe a couple of hiccups. And it WAS worth it. Despite my one grumble, I'm glad I read it. If thats anything like the reality (which I'm sure it was given that you can see so much personal input and experience in the book), then I've changed my mind on DADT! Lets hope Obamas changed dont get derailed now. Its about time America woke up to the fact that who really gives a damn what guys do with guys as long as they do their job first and foremost. Rich, I know this was your first attempt (albeit the second published), but please consider a follow up on the lives of Don and the rest of them. I really want to know what happens now. Does he live a better life.... Its in your mind man, don't fail us!
I loved this book from the minute I started reading it.
The characters Rich created came alive for me. I felt all the hurt this small group of friends endured, doing a brilliant job in a homophobic working environment. There are so many ups and downs and twists and turns. A fantastic ending, though my heart would wish it ended slightly differently.
Thank you Rich for writing for us, and all the kids who think they are alone in the world.