4 out of 4 stars
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Spoiler alert; The Warramunga’s War, by Greg Kater, is bound to grab your attention hook, line and sinker. This novel is a classic war story with mystery, espionage, romance, and suspense blended into an excellent treat for all those looking to be reinvigorated by a soldier’s story. The book is well researched historical fiction; characters are generally fictional, but many of the events and interactions are true. Set during World War II, The Warramunga’s War follows two unlikely Australian friends, Jamie and Jacko, as they work undercover in the Middle East to help discover and detain German spies. The story follows them through their work in Egypt, then back in their home of Australia as they continue to apprehend agents after the war ends. Not only does this book give a fresh spin on stories from World War II, but it also incorporates Aborigine culture through thoroughly researched and respectful means. Jacko is a half-white, half-Aborigine man, and his skills from his culture frequently come in handy, especially when it comes to saving his friends. Multiple mysteries unfold throughout the book, and the biggest twist completely blindsided me, something that has not happened in a very long time.
I was thoroughly impressed by the amount of time and energy Greg Kater put into researching this novel. Jacko’s sister appears in the last half of the novel, and as an uneducated, Aborigine woman living her life out in a remote area of the Australian bush, her speech was nearly unintelligible. I could immediately tell that the author took the time to look into regional dialects, language, phrases, and more. I was very impressed, even though her language was very irritating for me to read because I could not understand it. I also noticed that he took the time to look into period-specific research. Information about weaponry, military vehicles, army hospitals and flight fields were all accurately portrayed. I also noticed the racism which was present, but not overt, throughout the story. As a character of color, and an Aboriginal man, Jacko faced a lot of criticism and racism in the story. In fact, my favorite line in the whole book was a comeback from Jacko after catching a white supremacist spy in Australia. In response to the litany of racism spewing from the captive spy, Jacko said, “’Not exactly the master race, are we, but we manage to bumble along.’” I appreciated that the author included the casual racism of the time period, without making it the core of the book.
My least favorite part of the book was probably the number of clichés present throughout the story. This was the author’s first novel, and I found that many of the side stories present in the novel followed classic patterns in literature. Jacko’s love life was an old story of a soldier abroad following for a young, rich, exotic maiden, and eventually bringing her home with him. Some of the aspects of capturing the German soldiers and spies also struck me as following classic clichés. This is not to say that the author did not bring some very bright, new insights to old war stories; I simply noticed that as a new author, he seemed to have fallen prey to repeating old styles of stories and character traits here and there. This is something I am particularly aware of, and I don’t expect that it would affect the vast majority of readers the way it affected me. As such, I would categorize this as a very minor flaw.
I felt that the book was professionally edited, and the only error I consistently encountered in the book was the way the author wrote time. Instead of writing “5:00,” for example, the author would write “5.00.” I am not sure if this is an international method of recording time or not, but I definitely noticed the author consistently wrote all time in this manner throughout the entire book.
Overall, I give this book a four out of four stars. I think the author did an excellent job creating such an interesting and accurate work of historical fiction. I think this book would suit readers who like stories of war, soldiers, or espionage. I also think this book would be interesting for anyone looking to get a taste of Australian culture. That said, I do not recommend this book to anyone who has experienced sexual trauma. There is a moderately explicit scene of sexual assault that could be very triggering for some, and the culprit behind this scene plays an active role through much of the story.
The Warramunga's War
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