One Good Man: A Gay Marine Corps Novel

2 Stars

This was tedious. I bought this book with the promise of an angsty military drama. What I got was not much really. There is a lot of talk about weapons and tactics. An occasional bit about DADT, there are a lot of acronyms so if that isn’t your thing have our phone ready to search some of them. There wasn’t much else really. Nothing too in-depth about the main character. No real interaction with the other characters beyond gym workouts. Which were probably, by far the most entertaining thing about this book and they weren’t even that great. Beyond that there wasn’t anything really going on.

I kept turning pages thinking that some real interaction if only with his fellow soldiers would happen. it didn’t materialise. Even when the main characters met it didn’t get too involved then and it didn’t grow into something after that either. In the 60 percent or so of this novel that I slugged painfully through, I can count on one hand how many times the two mains met. The other stuff read was all military jargon and noise vaguely relating to the main characters homosexuality and distant relationship with his dad but not digging into it in a way I can recall. Nothing tangible just talk/narration. 

What it comes down to is there was no real plot. So much tactical information, so much about weapons and how the military works, not enough about the main character to really get into his mind. His responses to the few confrontations he had, especially the only one he had with the love interest, were juvenile and cliche at best. And the writing was very stilted. Sometimes I reread a few sentences because a wrong word was used. Like the author was going for something and used an almost right word or a word that sounded good. This, of course, changed the meaning of the sentence thus losing the idea the sentence was going for. I googled a word once just to be sure I wasn’t losing my mind cause it jolted me out of the story that much. 

I went in expecting a military action drama with the conflict and angst that goes along with having to hide oneself in a world that isn’t safe to be out and that fact being compiled with falling for someone also living in the same unsafe environment. It didn’t deliver. Without the book actually going down any sort of identifiable plotline, ultimately I had to give up. More than half a book of mostly information dropping about how things work in the military and the rare gym or cantine/food-hall/mess-hall scene left me skipping so many pages to get to the point and hours wasted for the story to still not reach it. It felt like I was reading a high school teens fantasy version of how a book like this should read instead of an adult version of what it’s really like to live in this world.

I guess I was waiting for more of how soldiers talk to each other; more of doing tactical missions and less talk of how they are done; more of the emotional stress that comes with being out there in danger fighting for a cause and the lengths you go through to avoid dealing with that psychological stress. Whether that be working out in the gym or making light, inappropriate to outsiders but very appropriate to insiders, jokes to mask the weight of it all. And lastly how with all of this also have to deal with our sexuality and how a serious interest in someone is threatening to break all these emotional walls you’ve built up.

Beyond the jargon and acronyms, what was is this life really like? It was almost like this story tried to be a real depiction of military life without actually delving into the dark gritty disgusting parts of it, and it didn’t leave enough space for the romantic angle to take off because it filled itself with an overload of information. However, there was way more than enough pages to drop some jargon, sprinkle in a dash of combat, add some real interaction with the soldiers and main character and the love interest, and more. This was not a short book by far even with the amount of pages I read and still the story hadn’t actually moved anywhere.

I couldn’t finish this and I tried, but there wasn’t enough plot direction to keep me in it. Each page felt like more of the same and after a while. The writing style felt a bit juvenile instead of reading like an adult had written it. Ultimately I had to accept that finishing this book was not going to happen.

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