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(eng) Wrote stories about the Echo Company in the midst of the Vietnam War under the pseudonym Zack Emerson.
Writes the Santa Paws series under the pseudonym Nicolas Edwards.


Verk av Ellen Emerson White

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Allmänna fakta

Andra namn
Edwards, Nicholas (the Santa Paws books)
Emerson, Zack
Rhode Island, USA
New York, New York, USA
Narragansett, Rhode Island, USA
Tufts University
Wrote stories about the Echo Company in the midst of the Vietnam War under the pseudonym Zack Emerson.
Writes the Santa Paws series under the pseudonym Nicolas Edwards.



I read this book about an 18-year-old drafted to fight in the Vietnam War when I was a teenager, which was many years ago. I recently remembered the series and recalled being surprised by how much I liked it, so I tracked it down to read again. It really was far outside of the type of books I read back then and is still quite different from my normal preference today. And just like when I was younger, I really liked this book.

The story opens with the MC, Michael Jennings, newly arrived in Vietnam after basic training in the States. He's shuttled through various bases until he ends up with the people with whom he'll be spending most of his time. That's where the story, and series, really begins, as he meets those who have already been near the DMZ for some time and have developed different ways to cope. Michael earns the nickname "Meat" (as in Fresh Meat), which sticks through the rest of the book. I kinda rolled my eyes, though, because it's a trope that annoys me a little that this one new guy out of all the new guys they have gotten happens to keep the new-guy nickname.

Early in the book, I wasn't sure I'd want to continue the series. The narration is often choppy, but it's purposely so. Now and then the author will write a sentence or paragraph as Michael's train of thought, including stopping mid-thought to switch to another one, sometimes several times. It feels very real and is how I think and even talk sometimes, but reading it can be a little frustrating. However, by halfway or so, Michael had really grown on me. Though the book is dark (what book about war, particularly this war, isn't?), it's also a poignant glimpse at a war that isn't written about as much, fought by teenagers who didn't really understand why they were there, and written for teenagers. For those who are wondering, though there is some language in it, it's not nearly as much as I'd imagine adult books about the same subject would have. I don't remember being bothered by that when I was a teenager, even though I was never one to use that kind of language myself. I'm not sure how much of the series I read as a teen, but I'm looking forward to continuing it now.
… (mer)
Kristi_D | 3 andra recensioner | Sep 22, 2023 |
The fifth and final book in the Echo Company series takes us back to the base hospital where Lieutenant Rebecca Phillips is serving out her tour. Before long, most of the people she knew in-country have gone home one way or another, and's her turn. The prospect of returning to normal life is more daunting than the idea of staying in Vietnam for another year, but Rebecca does what she has to do. Arriving in the United States, being back home with her family, none of that is really what it should be—she's just too messed up. And she's not sure that will ever change.

The overall idea that war destroys more than the actual soldiers is strongly presented in this book. Granted, Rebecca did more than just stay on her base and deal with the casualties that came in as other nurses would have done. The tragic encounter that left her injured in book #3 was certainly closer to the experiences of a soldier than those of a nurse. However, that only made her more broken. The book makes it clear that seeing everything she did in the hospital was enough to make "normal life" very difficult.

I struggled a little with having the constant perspective of someone who never tells the full truth (almost never). I'm not saying it feels unrealistic though. Apparently even before the war, Rebecca tended to tell half-truths, at least to her parents. Their relationship has been strained since before she left—that's a lot of why she left. However, from a fiction POV standpoint, for me, at least, it got a little frustrating to know she was holding back so very much, and I don't mean just the stuff that it makes a lot of sense for her to not want to tell them.

It was also a little frustrating to see her get good advice from wise and kind people and basically just ignore it. Again, it might be completely realistic for real-life people suffering from such high levels of PTSD to act this way, but it did start to make me wonder what the point of the book was. If it was just to show us the depressing side of life after war, it wasn't going to turn out to be my favorite at all. Things did end on a somewhat lighter note, though, and I do wish I could see some kind of follow-up for these characters. On the other hand, the realistic follow-up might not be something I'd want to see.

In the first part of the book, I found myself hanging on to everything written about Michael, the main character during most of the rest of the series. Apparently his change in personality in the last book didn't bother me enough to make me dislike him. I'm still surprised that I picked up the first book in this series when I was a teenager, because it's really not my norm. I didn't read them all back then, I think just 1 and 2, but I'm really glad I went through it all now. Here, at the end of the series, I think I would still recommend it for readers who might be interested. There is some language and in the last book a decent amount of sexual references (nothing remotely graphic).
… (mer)
Kristi_D | 4 andra recensioner | Sep 22, 2023 |
Now that Michael Jennings has been in Vietnam for a whole whopping not-quite two weeks, the sergeant asks him to walk point, the most dangerous job in the squad. To make things worse, the entire battalion is grouping up for a full-scale assault of a fortified hill. Fighting sleep deprivation, jungle rot, grief over their recent loss, and pure terror, Michael and the other guys from his squad will do what they have to, because what other choice to they have?

Even after reading the first book in the series recently, which I did like, I was still surprised at how much this series stuck with me since I read it as a teenager. But after reading this second book, I understand more of what I saw in it back then. The characters really begin to come into their own in this story—not just Michael, but also his friends and even at least one guy that pretty much hates Michael (the feeling is mutual). I really loved Michael and Snoopy reading Michael's letter from his mom together—and then re-reading it. Michael, who almost prides himself on being antagonistic, especially to authority figures, just can't seem to suppress his good principles, and it makes for some really touching scenes. Even the stilted narration is growing on me—it seems to add to the atmosphere of terror and uncertainty.

The book is still very dark; it's written for teens, but certainly doesn't pull many punches regarding the horrors of war—this war in particular. As with the previous book, there is definitely some language in it, but probably still not as much as adult books about the same subject would have. I'm highly anticipating continuing this series now.
… (mer)
Kristi_D | 2 andra recensioner | Sep 22, 2023 |
Michael and his squad are mostly going about business as usual, with the exception that Michael’s a little distracted thinking about the female lieutenant that they’d found wandering injured in the jungle. They also have a few new people in their squad, including a new squad commander. But Michael really liked the old squad commander. Then they get the word. Stand down. That means heading to the rear and out of combat. For Michael, that means the hoped-for chance to see the lieutenant again.

I was glad to go back to Michael and his squad, and for the first half of the book, I was really enjoying it. The most stoic character in the books became my new favorite in an amazing scene between him and Michael. We finally learn something about Michael’s ex, and boy is she a piece of work. And we get a glimpse of who Michael really is when he joins in with some hazing of a new guy in their squad. But even there, he recognizes that he’s acting that way because he’s upset and feels at least a little bad about it.

Then they get out of the jungle and onto a much safer base for their stand down, and things changed for me a little bit. It’s not like I can only enjoy the story when the characters are in peril—I did like reading about Rebecca’s time in the hospital during the previous book, despite being thrown because she was unexpectedly the MC of the book. My issue comes with the way Michael acts during this time. He gets pushy in a way that makes me feel really bad for Rebecca, and even worse, we find out that apparently happy, relaxed Michael is kind of a jerk and bully. I think if I’d read about him before he was drafted, I might not have liked the books as much. Still, I did like the way the author showed that after 2 months (or so) of combat, Michael already had the beginnings of some serious PTSD. It’s so real and so heart-wrenching to know that going home some day won’t necessarily be all safe and happy for him.

Overall, the story had some really good moments and was a good read. I’m not as sad as I thought I’d be that the main part of the series has come to an end, though, because I don’t know that I could have handled Michael after this. There is one book left that is about Rebecca and seems to have originally been published as a stand-alone. It’ll definitely be the first time I’ve ever read that (I read at least the first couple of books in this series when I was a teenager), so I’m looking forward to seeing if it stands up to the incredible hype.
… (mer)
Kristi_D | 2 andra recensioner | Sep 22, 2023 |



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