3 out of 4 stars
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At what point does the line blur between being humane and being barbaric? Are we inherently evil and only pretenders to civilization? When push comes to shove, what is it that would make one snap? The quote above, taken from the book, is a diagnosis of the fragile nature of our civilization.A note about human cruelty: For a person to commit (such) barbarity, they must step outside of that which prevented them from conducting such acts in peacetime, when ethics, morals, civilization, police and laws reigned supreme. They breach an invisible membrane within their hearts and minds, choosing to become monsters, divorcing themselves from humanity, mollifying their damaged consciences with such tropes as: War is hell, all is fair in love and war, Karma's a bitch, et al, ad-nauseum. (Location 7760)
No Quarter Given is the second book in The Red-Blue War series. It chronicles the unraveling of America in the wake of a civil war. The collection of stories in this book narrates different people's experiences as America grapples with the reality that society has disintegrated, and the worst in humanity has come to the fore. A total breakdown of law and order has been engendered by the civil war that rocks America in 2029. Switching between the first and third-person narrative, R. v. Urikon reminds everyone that "war comes only if the people desire it" while admonishing that if the propaganda continues to spread as it's doing, "the America that we know today will not be here tomorrow."
The author opted to be graphic in how he described the scenes and characters' experiences. These graphic descriptions achieved the purpose of bringing the subject matter into sharp focus. Two examples of these were how Abdul Aziz Harvey was amputated in Father Undone and how Dr. Leonardo and his nurses were burnt alive in Fruits of their Labors. I didn't like, though, that Urikon's graphic descriptions were a bit overboard at times and could have been softened a little where it concerned some sensitive and touchy subjects.
I liked how the author played around with the spellings of certain words in the speech of some characters. He did this to reflect the accent and nationalities of these characters. A few instances include spelling "the" as "zhe," "and" as "und," "that" as "zhat," and "what" as "vhat." This practice helped in the way I imagined the characters in my head. What I liked most about the book was how the author was able to link all the stories to the central theme of the book. Although it was a collection of stories, each story was still linked to the ongoing civil war. The locations, characters, and experiences varied with each story, but the message remained the same. Urikon did a brave job of calling our attention to the precarious situation in which modern civilization currently finds itself. And he did it through the medium of fiction, which takes great skill.
My biggest disappointment concerning this book is that it was not professionally edited; I found enough errors to support my assertion. While these errors didn't detract from my enjoyment of the stories and their collective message, they did hamper my reading flow. I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars due to the author's powers of description and the warning the stories in it carry for American and global civilization. Unfortunately, the lack of professional editing deprived this book of a full rating. I would recommend No Quarter Given to students of history and politics who are also lovers of fiction. If you can't handle graphic descriptions, this may not be the book for you.
No Quarter Given
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