Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: Bloody War by Terry Grimwood.

Warfare. After an entire history steeped in it, as we have made our way from one apocalyptic transition to the next, the reasons behind this mind-numbing dance of death are as mysterious now as they were on the first battlefields of history. What is it, exactly, that drives us to kill our own kind on such an epic playground? Basic human nature? Resources? The invention of money? It’s a question that we’re still asking to this very day, and with Bloody War, Terry Grimwood tries to answer this himself via a powerful and giddy thriller where modern England is the theatre for a new kind of bloodshed.   

The carnage comes to Pete Allman guillotine fashion: one morning he wakes up to find that more than eighteen months have passed in the blink of an eye. War has managed to penetrate his reasonably cozy existence as a reformed Bikie now working a desk job with a loving wife and three growing children. Things are the same but utterly different - life has now been reduced to a past only read about in history books and viewed on documentaries: food is rationed, propaganda is pertinent, and the sky is perpetually darkened by the soot and stain of bombs. In order to blend in, Pete must keep up the charade – his ignorance about the enemy (about everything significant to this new reality), will see his undoing if he attracts the wrong kind of attention. But it could also be his savior - the one thing that will keep him alive while buildings, landmarks, and even the people he loves burn at all hours of the day and night.

This is a decisive and quick novel, the first person narration easy to digest if somewhat insipid in the early parts of the book. Things pick up in the second half as surprising advents force Pete right into the heart of the battle. It is here that Terry’s prose shows the promise we see flashes of early on: a horror writer coming into his own using the canvas of war to showcase blood, tears, and nightmare imagery. Just when we think we know the territory, the author pulls the mat from under us with startling new developments that see no character safe from the bombs raining down. Pete Allman has an everyman quality we can identify with – we root for him as mysteries surrounding the war peel back to see the light of day.

Is this a political novel? It is if you have been following current world advents and have numerous questions surrounding the validity of those advents. In this respect the book resonates on an emotional level that almost induces anger. Who are we really fighting in any war? Who are the real leaders? The lines are not black and white anymore, if they ever were, and Pete’s personal journey is like a reflection for humanity as a whole. Although the majority march blindly to the war drums in any crusade, there is hope, for there will always be those who step out of the throng and entice others to follow. With a healthy smattering of George Orwell’s 1984 merged with the cat and mouse chase of celluloid excursions like Blade Runner and Minority Report, Terry Grimwood brings modern warfare all bloody and shrieking right into the dark heart of Western Society.

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