Publisher: Roche Harbor Books
Release date: August 3, 2011 (paperback edition)
Economic ruin and partisan rancor have pushed America to the brink of a new civil war. Esther is caught in the middle, serving as a page in the United States House of Representatives when rogue politicians and military leaders stage a modern day coup d'etat. When the coup turns violent, she abandons Washington, D.C. for home. She must learn to survive on her own as transportation and financial networks fail, as the war disrupts food and water supplies. The result is a cautionary tale about political extremism and the true cost of war.
I have been at a loss for words ever since I finished reading Far From the War. I don't even know where to start when it comes to describing my feelings and reactions to this book. So, I'll start with the one image that has stayed with since I finished reading: children collecting brass shell casings. I can't even quite pinpoint why that image has stayed with me. It certainly wasn't the most horrifying or vivid image in the novel. But maybe that's exactly why it has stayed with me; because it's not horrifying in the usual sense that we say things are horrifying, and because it's not something you expect to see in a war novel. But in its own way, it is horrifying to see children collecting brass shell casings. It portrays innocence on their part, and perhaps a fascination with things that are out of the ordinary. Kids don't always understand the true impact of war. And I think that's what makes this scene so horrifying. To see a boy excited about finding shell casings, and getting to keep them, when he probably doesn't what they are is frightening to me. I feel like I'm not even explaining very well why I find this image so frightening and beautiful.
To be honest, it's hard for me to write a review about this novel without wanting to analyze it. Far From the War is a novel that needs to be read and discussed, not just by bloggers or by people who really like to read, but also in schools. I can already picture how many people would argue with that statement, but frankly, I don't care. Far From the War is an important novel, and it deserves to be treated as such.
I admit there were moments of confusion for me. I think if I were to read through the novel a second time, the majority of that confusion will be cleared up. Part of me wonders, though, how intentional those moments of confusion were. But again, that leads me to start analyzing the novel, which I don't want to do.
I think the most terrifying thing about Far From the War is how realistic it is. I have no idea if we're headed toward another civil war any time in the near, or even distant, future. But Far From the War shows how it could happen, and the fact that this novel takes place in present-day America doesn't just make it terrifying, it makes it one of the most interesting and captivating dystopian novels I've read. The detail throughout the novel is incredible. The characters are great, and I can't wait to see how they develop further in the next novel. I'm not sure it's completely accurate to say I loved this book--for some reason, it just sounds wrong to me when I say that. But, I did thoroughly enjoy Far From the War, and I would love to read it again soon, so that I can really let my analytical side come out. I love novels that force me to think, and Far From the War definitely does that for me. I can't wait to see where Jeffrey David Payne takes us next.