Official Review: The Deserving by Efren O'brien

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Kathryn Price
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Official Review: The Deserving by Efren O'brien

Post by Kathryn Price »

[Following is an official review of "The Deserving" by Efren O'brien.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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The Deserving by Efren O’Brien is a rich and informative story that reads like a fascinating history book.. This historical fiction is one of the best I’ve ever read in the genre, with its descriptive settings and realistic battles and characters, though it took me a lot longer to read than most books. This book is a highly enjoyable book and a worthwhile read - however, if you are new to reading historical fiction, it’s probably best not to start with this one.

Emile Deschampes grew up in Louisiana in the 1800s, and ran away from home at 15 to escape his abusive father. At 18, he joined the Union army and proved himself as a true soldier, enduring hardships that won him rank and influence. During his time in the army, he met a young woman named Carmen, and after the war, Emile eventually ended up in her home town of San Antonio, Texas, and married her. Years later, when Aubrey McGrath, a former Confederate general who injured Carmen and attempted to kill Emile during the war, shows up in San Antonio with a plot to start a second Civil War, Emile must decide whether to ignore the warning signs or do everything in his power to stop McGrath despite personal risk to himself and Carmen.

It’s abundantly clear that the author did his research. At times, it’s hard to tell where fact ends and fiction begins, and the amount of detail described is mind-boggling. He also has a deep, firm grasp on the English language, using it to great effect during this story. He gives readers up-close looks at the history, culture, facts, and legends surrounding the Civil War and that era of history. I was impressed at the depth of this narrative, though it sometimes felt unnecessary.

I did notice that sometimes the story felt a little bit dry – more ‘history book’ than ‘historical fiction’ at times – but this may be because I haven’t read much historical fiction in a long while. A couple of errors that could be easily fixed by a more thorough proofreader, mostly involving missing commas, would be helpful as well, but this did little to detract from the overall story. Comparatively speaking, it’s much better edited than several books I have read recently.

Really my only major complaint is that it’s hard to follow the story. All the detail and in-depth scenes are well-researched, but the story itself is swallowed up in it, and there are so many characters that it’s hard to keep track of who is important and who is not. It’s like the author got so interested in describing specific events that occur during the story’s timeline, he forgot about the story at hand, before coming back to complete the narrative. I had a hard time figuring out enough of the storyline to sum it up in this review, and I found myself reading several sections multiple times.

This is historical fiction at its best – though unfortunately I have to take a point off for the hard-to-follow storyline. I rate it 3 out of 4 stars for its well-researched, well-rounded scenes and characters, and its realistic and descriptive take on the Civil War. Whether you are a history buff or a simple fiction lover, you will enjoy this story, provided you factor in the time it will take you to read it.

The Deserving
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“If you believe only in facts and forget stories, your brain will live, but your heart will die” ― Cassandra Clare, Lord of Shadows
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Post by kandscreeley »

There seems to be a fine line between historical fiction and just using too much history. It's hard to find that balance. It sounds like this one dips too much into the history book side for me. Thanks for the review, though!
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Post by Irene C »

Thanks for this review. Since I don't know much about Texas in the general period of the American Civil War I think I'd be less bothered by the passages that are more straight history, but it is a bit concerning that parts of the novel seem dry.
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Post by Sahani Nimandra »

Keeping balance is a very important in giving a perfect picture. I keep this book at bay to check it out later. Thank you!
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Post by Vickie Noel »

I'm generally fascinated by historical fiction and I think this book will be a good fit for me. I'd like to know how Emile handles those warning signs of trouble. Thanks for pointing out the not-so-great aspects, though I don't think it really will be a deterrent to my interest. Great review!
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Post by prettysmart »

:D Was never really keen on learning history, but your commendable review makes me want to delve into this book
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Post by Ida123 »

Want to know more on this book, history is always better in novels, colored with many characters and their actions. Good job on your review.
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Post by Libs_Books »

This sounds like a really interesting book. It's a pity that the author is sometimes too keen to share the results of all that research with the reader, but even great historical novels sometimes make that mistake early in their writing careers. Although I'm interested in the Civil War, I have a low tolerance for detailed descriptions of battles, so I think I'll pass on this one - but thanks for the review.
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Post by RebeccasReading »

This sounds like something I'd really enjoy! Thanks for the review.
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Post by Camille Turner »

Thank you for the thorough review! It sounds like a very interesting story though I don't like the idea of lots of side details that aren't necessary to the main plot.
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Post by gali »

An historical fiction revolving around the civil war and the life of a young solider sounds intriguing. Descriptive settings and realistic battles and characters enrich the tale, but can also bog the plot if overdone. Too bad about the dry writing, over-detailed info, and the disjointed tale. I am not fond of books that focus more on the history aspect than on the story, but I am glad you enjoyed the book. Thank you for the review!
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Post by Shamsu22122 »

Out standing book.
As i am not a history student but i found it a bit excellent
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Post by bb587 »

I've enjoyed my fair share of historical fiction but this book sounds a bit too dense for me. I enjoy when a book in this genre is accurate but I don't particularly like when the facts outweigh the storyline, as described in the review. The love between Emile and Carmen seems endearing and genuine though.
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Post by Cwynn »

Thanks for your review. I find it is not uncommon for the story to get lost in the history. It does sound like a good read though.
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Post by steviexlouise »

Historical books aren't for me, I find them confusing and mediocre alot of the time. It sounds like the type of book my nan would like though, as she understands time concept within books better than me.
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