Tag Archives: Novels

War Novels

Thw Watch_ The Yellow Birds
It’s certainly no surprise to see the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts featuring in a growing number of war novels. Just recently I have read two particularly impressive examples from our library:
The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

The  Watch, set in Afghanistan, tells the story of events following a furious fire-fight between American soldiers defending their isolated Kandahar base from Taliban attackers. The following day, a lone, war-crippled young woman appears outside the base seeking the return of her dead brother’s body, and the story tells what happens when her persistent demands and unsettling presence force the battle-weary soldiers to question their beliefs about the war in Afghanistan, setting them to confused arguing about what best to do with her. This powerful book, written in a style encompassing several different viewpoints, certainly does not shy away from showing the raw realism of war. A book trailer follows:

The second novel, The Yellow Birds, is equally powerful in its evocation of the plight of two American soldiers in the Iraqi War, 21-year-old Private Bartle and the comrade he promised to protect, 18-year-old Private Murphy. This novel is perhaps even more interesting stylistically,  beginning: “The war tried to kill us in the spring”; and it, like The Watch, shows the deadly war-zone realities for soldiers. Kevin Powers is well qualified to write such a powerful book, having served in Iraq in 2004-2005, and he has commented that his intention was to ” … try the best I could to show the experience of war from inside …”.

It’s a harrowing read, but is so well written that it won the Guardian First Book Award 2012 and was a New York Times bestseller in its first week of publication. It is almost sure to become an addition to war classics such as “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “Catch-22″.

Mr F

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A Monster Calls – by Patrick Ness

In this wonderfully moving book, Patrick Ness has taken and developed an idea left unwritten by English writer, Siobhan Dowd, when she died an early death from cancer in 2007. It is an impressive book on all counts, about a young boy, Conor, who is struggling to come to terms with the imminent death of his mother after a long fight with cancer. The book is  beautifully presented with eerie black and white illustrations throughout to complement the story, and it leaves the reader feeling immensely saddened and humbled by the beautifully-told story of life and death.

A BBC News item of 5 August 2011 gives Patrick Ness’ own explanation of how the book came about: Patrick Ness: Why I wrote A Monster Calls. The novel has already won a number of awards, and I feel certain that there are more to come.

Mr F

Settlers’ Creek by Carl Nixon


Have just finished this thoroughly good read, from a fine writer. Settlers’ Creek reflects the current New Zealand situation and environment in a very believable way. Carl Nixon‘s story of the family tragedy, when Box Saxton’s teenage stepson commits suicide and his body is highjacked by his biological father for burial elsewhere, is most engrossing and fast-moving. Saxton, once a successful property developer, but then bankrupted by the economic recession, emerges as a strong and credible character as he takes action to deal with the crisis.

A fine read which should appeal to senior students and staff. Some of you will remember Carl from his visit to King’s College in our 2009 Literacy Week.

My School Holiday reading

A very mixed bag of books, but I have certainly enjoyed the time to catch up with my reading. I have attached a link to each title so that clicking on the book cover will take you to a web link on it.








They’re all from our Library. Come and select those that sound like your kind of reading, and let us know how you find them.