I am a SEAL Team Six Warrior by Howard E. Wasdin book review

 

I am a SEAL Team Six Warrior

Howard E. Wasdin

Nonfiction/War

192 pages

 

This was a really interesting book for me to read.  I generally read fiction books, but this one is a nonfiction, a collection of memoirs from Howard Wasdin, an American Soldier who works his way through to be one of the elite warriors of SEAL Team Six.  He covers a necessary amount of his childhood and rocky relationship with his parents, and the circumstances that led him to join the Navy.  He talks about the different trainings that he went through in detail, and all of them sound terrible to me.  He does things that most ordinary people could never do; that I know I could never do.  Wasdin writes about all the preparation that he goes through to become a sniper on the Team he wanted to be on: Hell Week, SEAL Team Two, SEAL Team Six, and Marine Corps Scout Sniper School.

 

Early on, he remembers a mantra that the SEALs live by.  “The more you sweat in peacetime, the less you bleed in war” (4).  The SEALs are all about training.  He talked about practicing during his free time or down time to get better at the things he felt he needed to.  This tight knit group of SEALs working together formed bonds that were, admittedly to Wasdin, more important than his marriage, which always took a backseat to his job.

 

These memoirs cover a few different missions that Wasdin was present during, but much of it takes place in Mogadishu, Somalia.  He recalls his own realization that the men he is fighting against are human, like him.  “Whether you’re winning or losing, war is hell.  It’s important to understand that our enemies are human” (60).  I think war is often glamourized, in video games and such, and this book certainly shows the horrific sides of it.  He said something else that really made me think, “Most Americans don’t realize how blessed we are – we need to be more thankful” (102).  Compared to the lives he described in Somalia, we have it pretty good elsewhere and it makes me sad for people living in other countries under those terrible conditions.

 

One last quote I really liked was toward the end, when Wasdin was recounting the day he was injured multiple times and almost died in battle.  “Anyone who says he wasn’t scared in combat is either an idiot or a liar.  Everyone becomes scared.  It’s a healthy fear.  I’d never want to go into combat with someone who wasn’t a little afraid” (137).

 

I thought this was a really good book, very interesting with a lot of terrifying information.  And it was cool to get a deep look into the training that the SEALs in particular go through.  One issue I had with the book was the typos.  I don’t usually even catch them when I’m reading, but I noticed quite a few in this that bothered me.  However, that didn’t outweigh my liking for the book near enough to not recommend it.  If you are interested in war, military, nonfiction in general, I think you will really enjoy this book.

Reached by Ally Condie book review

Reached book

Reached

Ally Condie

Dystopian Fiction/Romance

512 Pages

Finally, the conclusion of the Matched series! I was excited to get this book and finish the series to see how Ally Condie decided to end everything. I have to say, I was pleased overall. I believe I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, the whole series has kind of a Farhenheit 451 mixed with a Hunger Games feel to me, and I like it. I like that there is a message behind the novels as well as just the entertainment. This was a really fun series to read, especially if you are into the ever-growing popularity of dystopian scenarios.

The series began with Matched, where we just heard from Cassia’s point-of-view throughout the entire novel. Then came Crossed, where it switched back and forth between Cassia and Ky. In the conclusion, we get inside the minds of not only Cassia and Ky, but Xander as well, so the reader can know what they are all thinking and feeling. I was impressed with Condie’s ability to distinguish clearly between the characters in her series, keeping their feelings, tones, and ideas seperated completely and soundine like three different voices.

The Rising is finally set to take over in this novel, and makes the move to do so. The takeover goes smoothly; almost too smoothly. The Pilot assumes position as the leader and overseer of the people, helping them to get out of the mess that they are in. The characters in the book all seem to be struggling with where their allegiance lies; not necessarily to the Society over the Rising, but to their friends and what is truly right. Cassia, Ky, and Xander are apart from each other for much of the book, and facing struggles on their own.

Although there is a very obvious and, at times a problematic love triangle scenario, it is clear to see the connection between the three main characters. They are bound together and must act together in order to accomplish the greater good and do their part. It becomes more or less up to the trio to save the world, which is to be somewhat expected in a series like this. They all have an important role to play in which they need to come together to find a solution before all is lost. When they finally do all come together, there is both joy and sadness in their reunion. Cassia must finaly make her choice between Ky and Xander. The people need to choose between The Rising and The Society; between a sense of freedom or a feeling of oppression. This novel is a battle of the intellect and emotions.

There wasn’t as much action or adventure in this one as in the last installment, but it kept me thoroughly entertained and engaged until the end. I think that Condie did a great job of wrapping everything up in a pleasing way. It wasn’t the best ending to a series I’ve ever read, but it was put together nicely in a way that leaves hope for humanity and the future of mankind foloowing the conclusion. If you read the first two in the series, which I assume you did if you are reading this, I think you need to pick this one up and finish it off. Overall, I loved the series and if you are into this genre, I think that you will as well. It was a great job by Condie and I look forward to seeing what else she comes out with in the future.

Crossed by Ally Condie book review

Crossed book

Crossed

Ally Condie

Dystopian Fiction/Romance

367 Pages

 

This book, for me, took on an entirely different feel to it than did the first one, Matched. There is more excitement, danger, and adventure. Also, a big difference between the two books is that the narration gets split up evenly between Cassia and Ky, so we get to hear from both of their points of view. Ky has been sent away to the Outer Provinces and Cassia is on a seemingly impossible journey to find him. Separately, both Ky and Cassia make their way into a dangerous canyon where there are rumors of the rebellion being headquartered.

 

There is still a love story in this second novel, as well as Cassia still feeling torn between Xander and Ky, but it felt less prevalent to me than in Matched. There was more excitement and physical danger than was in the first book as well. The feel of this book changed a lot for me, because the setting was so different and the story was really maturing. We got to learn more about Ky’s past and also about other people we meet in the book, and see what it is like for them living under the Society’s rule. The rebellion, or at least the idea of one, really took a bigger spotlight in this book as Cassia desperately wants to find the source of it, almost as much as she wants to find Ky.

 

If you liked Matched, you definitely have to continue on with the trilogy. The love triangle continues, the uprising continues, and Condie’s writing is getting better. I’m excited to see how she ends the trilogy and if the third book will be as different from the second one as it was to the first. Again, this series shows the importance of literature and being able to make our own choices. This book serves as a warning as to what could happen if our choices and rights get taken away from us. Another book that I would recommend to anyone; there is nothing inappropriate or offensive in the novel, just a great read for anybody! I’m excited for the third book!

Wolves, Boys, and Other Things that Might Kill Me book review

 

Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me

Kristen Chandler

Ethics/Romance

371 pages

 

KJ is a teenage girl who lives alone with her dad in a part of Yellowstone that has been reintroduced to wolves. This is causing a lot of contention around town between the farmers and people who think that the wolves belong and should be allowed to stay. KJ has always just kind of kept to herself until a new boy, Virgil, comes into town. His mom is there to study the wolves and something about Virgil makes KJ want to stand up and voice her own opinion for a change. She started out by just writing about the wolves in her school newspaper because it was something that Virgil was interested in but then she started to form her own thoughts and ideas about the animals. This causes conflict with her dad and others in the town, but KJ is determined to be heard.

 

The town debates get hotter and hotter as the wolves continue to cause trouble by killing livestock, and soon, violence erupts. Can KJ, with the help of Virgil and his mom, find a solution to the problem that will make everyone happy? This book raises real issues and debates that are going on now. I’ve always loved wolves, and I didn’t even know that there was conflict going on about their reintroduction into Yellowstone until I read this book. Then, less that a week after I finished it, I saw a post on Facebook about the very issues presented in this book. It made me interested because I actually knew what it as talking about where I wouldn’t have just a couple weeks before.

 

This was an interesting book to read and one that was actually full of useful information regarding this conflict. I thought that Chandler did well to present both sides of the argument, and I could definitely empathize with each side. At the beginning of each chapter, there was some sort of little side note that made the book fun; a short fact about wolves, a little joke, or something else was always there to surprise me. That part of the book almost reminded me of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Overall, I think it is a good book. It is a book that takes a while to really get into and start caring about the characters, but once you do, by the end, you’ll really enjoy it. Also, it is an appropriate book for any age range, and one that I think everyone would enjoy reading.

The Things They Carried book review

The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien

Realistic Fiction/War

233 Pages

 

The Things They Carried is a collection of war stories from the Vietnam War. O’Brien points out more than once in the book that it is a work of fiction, and not real; however, the stories certainly have a ring of truth. I’m sure that they are altered, but I would imagine that there is a lot of truth to many of the stories in this novel. It tells of O’Brien’s own experiences in the war, and over the course of the book, you get to know him and some other members of his platoon.

 

This novel begins by talking about what the soldiers carried, both by necessity and by choice. There is a lot of information and specifics here, but I found none of it boring. It was very interesting to learn about the specific weights of weapons, supplies, and other things that they carried. I imagined myself in their shoes, and thought about how hard it would be to lug everything around in the middle of a war that they were required to carry. I have never been to war, and I respect those that have. This novel brings to light some of the unimaginable things that those in war have to deal with. It shows the skills they pick up in order to cope with what becomes everyday life to them, things many of us might find savage and unable to understand.

 

O’Brien had a lot of thoughts in this book that I really liked. One thing he said was, “But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget” (33). He writes because he was there. He writes because he can’t forget and this is his way of dealing with it, almost like a therapy, it seems. He goes on to talk about war stories and they purpose they serve. “That’s what war stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night where you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story” (36). O’Brien isn’t able to forget, and he doesn’t want us to forget.

 

I can understand why this book might be hard for some to read. I imagine that for those who have been to war, this might bring back some memories that had been repressed. I imagine that for those who have been affected by relatives who have come home from war different, it could be a hard thing to read. I also think that it is an important book that could lend some understand to those of us who haven’t been to war. One other quote from the novel that I liked is this: “War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead” (76).

 

My one complaint with the novel was that the timeline was a little messy. He jumped back and forth a bit to before the war, during the war, later in the war, earlier in the war, etc. That aspect of it made parts of it harder for me to follow. However, I think that most of the chapters in the book would have worked standing alone on their own, so it wasn’t that big of a deal, I just prefer things in chronological order. I think that anyone interested in war or learning about the Vietnam War experiences in particular would like this novel. As I said, it is a work of fiction, but I wouldn’t be surprised if much of it was true, or at least derived from true events. I enjoyed reading this book, and will look at more of O’Brien’s works in the future. I wouldn’t recommend this book to younger readers, because of some of the content included. I mean, it is war, so there are going to be things disturbing inside. There is also some course language, but I felt like it was purely in context with the soldiers and lifestyles they were in. However, if it would bother you, beware, because it is in there.

The Kite Runner book review

The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini

Historical Fiction/Coming-of-Age

371 Pages

 

I picked this book up because I had seen a lot of people reading it which made me curious. It was not what I expected. The book is largely about a boy growing up in Afghanistan shortly before the invasion by Russian forces. His name is Amir and he lives in a house with his father, as his mother has passed away. The novel gets its name from an activity very popular at this time, a kite tournament. Amir’s closest companion is a boy named Hassan, who is actually the son of his father’s servant, and thereby the younger servant of the family as well. Although Hassan considers Amir his best friend and would do anything for him, Amir doesn’t even consider them friends. He is very aware of him importance and “rank” above Hassan.

 

When Amir enters the kite tournament, he desires to win to hopefully make his dad proud so that the awkwardness between them can end. His loyal companion Hassan is running kites for him and promises to bring the last kite back. As he is running to find it, his path is intercepted by some old rivals who have vowed revenge. The boys are abusing Hassan, and Amir finds him just in time to be able to intercede and stop them, but he is frozen with fear and does nothing. When Hassan finally returns with the kite, Amir is so ashamed with himself that he cannot even look at Hassan, and things between them are never the same.

 

This novel then follows the course of Amir’s life as he grows up and his life changes in ways he never could have imagined. He comes to America and his father, who was once a successful businessman struggles to make ends meet. He finds some happiness, but Hassan in always there in the back of his mind. He can’t help but wonder how things could have been different if he had found the courage to stand up for the boy that would have done anything for him that day. This is a sad story filled with drama and despair, but it is a good book. In the end, Amir is presented with a dangerous opportunity to possibly redeem himself, and it will take all the courage he can muster to face it.

 

There are definitely some situations and content that might not be acceptable for younger readers. This novel is a sad tale of things that you hope aren’t true as you’re reading it. It addresses topics such as bullies, courage, and standing up for others, with an overall good message in a powerful book that you will remember.