Youngblood (★★★★★)

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Matt Gallagher  *  Atria Books  *  February 2, 2016  *  352 Pages

I really enjoy reading stories (fictional or not) told from the perspective of soldiers. I’ve read a bunch of them, so I have many to compare this one to. I have to say, Young Blood is one of the strongest books of its kind that I’ve read in a long while. The plot is engaging–even surprising at several points–and the characters are believable and well-developed. I found myself drawn to lieutenant Jack Porter immediately. I like that he isn’t all brawn and bravado. Porter is competent, but also unsure of himself in his new leadership role. He is thoughtful and cautious, and he makes mistakes. Far from being some one-dimensional He-Man, he actually has some depth.

My favorite thing about this book, though, is that it didn’t go anywhere I expected it to. A lot of the book focuses on Porter’s tense relationship with Sergeant Daniel Chambers, and, honestly, I thought I knew exactly what was going to happen between them. But I was way off. The end of the book, in actuality, is much more nuanced and subtle than I expected. The events that unfold are complex, and, through them, author Gallagher acknowledges that war is not a black and white experience–not for soldiers or leaders, not for the occupied or the occupiers. It’s all just…complicated.

At any rate, this was a great read. Good story. Interesting characters. Solid all around.

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