Review Detail

Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A

Riveting WWII Japanese POW Camp Saga

Henry has had a difficult life on the family farm in Minnesota. After the death of his mother, his father took up drinking and abusing him, so at the age of 15, he signs up for the Marines, with his grandfather vouching for his age. He survives basic training and is sent to the Philippines. Just as his commander is ready to send him home for being underage, the Japanese attack. Henry (nicknamed "Tree"),along with his friends and protectors, Gunny and Jamison, must try to stay alive during the bombings, and when the Japanese take them prisoners. Henry has some problems with anger management, and makes lots of bad choices, angering a guard he refers to as "Scarface" and getting beaten regularly. He does manage to save an Australian soldier, and the alliance with this group helps when Gunny is taken for "questioning". Japanese prison camps were brutal, and Tree ends up spending several years there. The prisoners show a lot of resourcefulness when it comes to outsmarting guards, obtaining medicine and food, and helping each other, but conditions are such that not everyone will survive.

Good Points
There are a lot of World War II books, and yet I always need more for my readers who find it fascinating. A lot of books set during this time period take place in Europe, but there is a small number set in the Pacific theater. This is an excellent addition to books such as this author's Into the Killing Seas, Salisbury's The Hunt for the Bamboo Rat and Lynch's The Liberators, as well as excellent nonfiction titles like Farrell's Pure Grit, and Weintraub's No Better Friend. I've been reading middle grade World War II fiction for twenty years, and those are the only Pacific theater titles I can muster, so there is a need to more!

Spradlin's book is especially effective because it takes into account what younger readers want, which is action, adventure, and violence, with what the adults handing them the books want, which is a certain depiction that war is not a great option. Henry's enlistment is done out of desperation over his situation at home, which was not unusual at the time. While the story doesn't glorify war, it does celebrate the men who banded together to help each other survive, and showed the triumph of human will under impossible circumstances. The other thing that young readers like is anyone undermining authority, and the prisoners certainly managed to get the better of their captors on many occasions. I imagine that Hogan's Heroes was wildly popular with 12 year old boys when it was on television, for just this reason.

The historical details are rich and interesting; it had never occurred to me that the guards at the prisons camp were the less successful soliders, but it makes sense. The heat and humidity of the jungle, the food rations or lack thereof, and the historical background are all effectively portrayed, and will hold up to the scrutiny of the most well informed war buff.
Was this review helpful to you? 

Comments

 
 
Ordering 
 
Already have an account? or Create an account
 
 
 
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Light Years
As a mysterious virus infects the world’s population, a girl...
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid
It is an ordinary Tuesday morning in April when bored,...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Ryan Quinn and the Lion's Claw (Ryan Quinn #2)
Ryan Quinn and the Lion’s Claw is the much-awaited sequel...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Among the Red Stars
World War Two has shattered Valka's homeland of Russia, and...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Going Wild #2: Predator vs. Prey
The Going Wild series highlights the unbelievable (and completely true)...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
It's 1953, and the United States has just executed an...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade
In sixth grade, bad things can happen to good kids....
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Afterlife of Holly Chase
Before I Fall meets “bah, humbug” in this contemporary YA...
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Autoboyography
Fangirl meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Infographic Guide to College: A Visual Reference for Everything You Need to Know
For fans of the popular Show Me How series, this...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
The Hanging Girl
Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
BanThisBook.jpg
You’re Never Too Young to Fight Censorship! ...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Eight Days on Planet Earth
How long does it take to travel twenty light years...
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation
Even monster-battling princesses get tired sometimes! But a peaceful time...
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Refugee.jpg
JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany....
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Light Years
 
3.3
"A dystopian-leaning mid-apocalyptic YA with a pandemic premise and a code savvy heroine. The book takes place in a..."
Ryan Quinn and the Lion's Claw (Ryan Quinn #2)
 
5.0
"After his harrowing experiences in Andakar and his discovery that his parents are involved in the Emergency Rescue Committee in..."
Among the Red Stars
 
4.7
"Valka has trained as a pilot, and idolizes some of the Russian women who have made the news for the..."
The Afterlife of Holly Chase
 
3.3
"Five years ago, seventeen-year-old Holly Chase was visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve. They warned her to change her..."
The City of Brass
 
5.0
"Where do I start with this book? Well you better prepare for some late nights because once I started this..."
Three Day Summer
 
4.3
"August 15-18 is the anniversary of Woodstock music festival! and i relived that time by reading this book! i make..."
The Hanging Girl
 
4.0
"Skye Thorn is a fake. Her so-called psychic abilities are all a scam. Then she gets involved in the biggest..."
Eight Days on Planet Earth
 
3.3
""I want to believe." Agent Scully's take from the X files is shown here when a mysterious girl shows up..."
The Witch Boy
 
5.0
"Many of the stories out there deal with girls who go against the grain and want to do what society..."
Swing It, Sunny
 
4.7
"Again Jennifer and Matt Holm prove they are the dynamic duo when it comes to graphic novels and story telling...."
Solo
 
5.0
"Told entirely in verse, Solo is a story full of love, loss, addiction and music. Like Kwame Alexander's previous books,..."
Refugee
 
5.0
"Alan Gratz does it again with Refugee. Gratz knows how to weave historical facts and great story telling flawlessly. Refugee..."
This Savage Song
 
4.0
"This Savage Song is a uniquely peculiar novel that cleverly combines magic, monsters and music. Dark, violent and monstrous, the..."
The 12 Dares of Christa
 
4.3
"'The 12 Dares of Christa' by Marissa Burt is a sweet story of friendship, determination, strength, and forgiveness. Main character..."
Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes
 
5.0
"'Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes' by Booki Vivat is an adorable, illustrated story that not only proves a fast..."
How to Disappear
 
5.0
"I am so absolutely in love with Sharon Huss Roat. Her books are funny, relatable, and so easily devoured. I..."
David Inside Out
 
5.0
"David Inside Out is a novel about a teenager (David) who is discovering he is gay. In David's high school,..."
The Rest of Us Just Live Here
 
3.7
"I have to admit, it took me a while to get into this one. The characters seemed to me to..."
The Book Thief
 
4.7
"Death as a narrator? What an idea! It was so interesting to see the Second World War from a German..."
Ferocious (Vicarious #2)
 
5.0
"*WARNING: There are no spoilers for FEROCIOUS, but there are spoilers for book 1, VICARIOUS* As a reader, sequels always..."