Sunday, October 26, 2014

ALL THE YOUNG WARRIORS by Anthony Neil Smith

So I'm, uh, a little late to this party.

But this is a remarkably good book, so I felt compelled to post about it. What starts out looking like a police procedural is actually the story of two young American-Somali men who venture to Somalia to fight in a holy war. They take wildly divergent paths--Mustafa instantly becomes a ruthless and heroic leader, whereas Adem is horrified by the senseless violence and yearns to go back to America. But one doesn't just leave the holy war, and Adem finds himself trapped in a hostile land.

While this will scratch the crime fiction itch, it's also a fascinating examination of how these characters attempt to reconcile their Somali and American identities. And it's an insider take on a disastrous conflict that's ruined a once-beautiful city. (I don't know what Smith did to research this book, but the parts about Somalia feel very real.) Overall, it's a sharply written, suspenseful, unusual novel.

Check it out and the sequel, Once a Warrior


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