Our War by Craig DiLouie
Orbit (August 20, 2019)
400 pages; $17.74 hardcover; $16.99 paperback; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
This may be one of the most important books you’ll read this year. I say that without an ounce of hyperbole. Given the current climate of our country and its cultural, political, and social polarization, Craig DiLouie has written a heart-breaking, terrifying novel which—I desperately hope—will only be a warning, and not someday viewed as prophetic.
In lesser hands, this could’ve easily been fumbled in a ham-handed attempt to write a novel about how bad Donald Trump is, and how stupid and hateful his supporters are. The result would’ve been unreadable. You simply can’t create a good story from how much you hate the president (I’m looking at YOU, American Horror Story: Cult).
What makes Our War so profoundly moving and powerful is that DiLouie’s deft storytelling and acute characterization doesn’t indict any side explicitly. He simply takes the current political situation—many voices trying to shout as loudly and as angrily as possible without listening to the other side—and blows the situation up (no pun intended) into the most natural outcome: civil war. Through the story of siblings Hannah and Alex Miller—brother and sister separated by chance to opposite factions in this war—DiLouie shows the ugly realities of such a conflict. Those who will pay the worst price of all will be the innocents, the ones who never wanted anything to do with the war in the first place.
Again, it would’ve been very easy for a writer to pick one side and demonize them and paint them as hopelessly evil or ignorant. He doesn’t do that. He shows flaws on all sides. DiLouie’s message is clear: in such a conflict, it wouldn’t be long until it didn’t matter who was wrong, who was right, or who started it. All that matters, eventually, is the collateral death and heartache, and how the continuing bloodshed eats away at all combatants regardless of sides, leaving them unsure of what they’re fighting for, or why. Thought-provoking, disturbing, and frightening. Highly recommended.