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Although the book was presented as a book for adolescents, it was targeted more for early adult. It follows some of the more disturbing parts of the Vietnamese war through the eyes of a late teen who has little clue of what he wants out of life. He learns that war is indeed hell. I would recommend this as reading for any late teen considering joining the military.
One description of war is mostly mundane boredom interrupted by moments of intense action. Dean Hughes' book subscribes to this premise. Rick is a teen, recent high school graduate, who volunteers to fight in the Vietnam War. Expect to read heavy handed dialogue about the struggle to maintain one's humanity while fulfilling one's duty as a soldier to kill. The author may have overdone this message at the expense of developing characters beyond superficial personalities, such as Rick's ex-girlfriend and Ken,his mentor in the bush. Hughes succeeds in showing war as less than romantic, while the common soldier is heroic in fighting for his country and protecting his comrades in the field. Expect graphic death scenes which hammer home Hughes' themes because they are brief moments in the book. This book makes for a great book study conversation. Consider it.