As regular readers will know, author CRAIG DILOUIE and I go back a long way. A glance through the archives of this site will show that I’m not just a friend of his I’m also a fan, and I was thrilled when he sent me a copy of his latest novel, OUR WAR.
Since finding huge success with zombie and apocalyptic novels like TOOTH AND NAIL and THE INFECTION, DiLouie’s also found an audience for his meticulously researched war novels, the CRASH DIVE series. In case you’d forgotten, DiLouie, Tim Long and I also co-wrote THE FRONT series, a World War II zombie mash-up which a lot of folks seemed to enjoy.
But DiLouie also writes books with far more personal themes. Of particular note is SUFFER THE CHILDREN, which looks at the lengths parents will go to in order to protect a child. His latest novel, OUR WAR, is set in the near future and, for me, it’s the most successful collision yet of the two strands of his fiction. OUR WAR is a prescient book, and a hard one to read, but it’s one I’d very much like to recommend you pick up.
When the president of the United States is impeached, but refuses to leave office, the country erupts into civil war.
10-year-old Hannah Miller, an orphan living in besieged Indianapolis, has joined a citizen’s militia. She had nowhere else to go. And after seeing the firsthand horrors of war, she’s determined to fight with the Free Women militia.
Hannah’s older brother, Alex, is a soldier too. But he’s loyal to the other side. After being separated from Hannah, he finds a home in a group calling themselves The Liberty Tree militia.
When a UNICEF worker and a reporter discover that both sides are using child soldiers, they set out to shine a light on something they thought could never happen in the United States. But it may be too late because even the most gentle children can find that they’re capable of horrific acts.
In many ways we live in an increasingly polarised society, with what can feel like irreparable divisions springing up between friends, families and communities. As you know, that’s a central theme of my HATER series, and having spent more than a decade studying and writing about intolerance, I’m worried that more than ever we’re spiralling towards the point of no return. You’ve only to look at the first line of the OUR WAR blurb to see how close to reality this piece of speculative fiction really is.
Regardless of which side you support – whether you’re a Trump supporter or not in the US, or a Brexiteer or Remainer over here – since 2016 it’s become increasingly easy to see the effect that wildly differing viewpoints and an inability to compromise can have on society as a whole. Speaking personally, the longer the Brexit saga has continued in the UK, the more bitter I think it has become. Damaging rifts have opened up between people, with actions having been taken which threaten the democratic foundations of our society. And as these rifts deepen, it’s not difficult to imagine an even darker future where arguments become conflicts. DiLouie taps into this fear by telling his story from the perspectives of, amongst others, the members of a fractured family. By focusing on 10-year-old Hannah, and without resorting to over-sentimentality, he demonstrates the devastating impact of war on innocence. Forget about the made-up politics and near-future setting: this is a harsh reality which is being played out today in many parts of the world. Reading OUR WAR, you wonder what it would take for DiLouie’s fiction to become fact in the US and parts of Europe. The more we splinter and divide, and the harder we find it to negotiate and compromise, the greater the propensity for conflict.
OUR WAR is a stark reminder of the high costs of war, and also of the fact that it’s often those least equipped who are forced to pay the highest price. Highly recommended.