Next Up For Review

Next Up For Review
The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn Saks

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Not All Dragons Breathe Fire

DRAGON LADY by Gary Alexander
In 1965 Saigon, Joe, a young draftee, becomes obsessed with a Vietnam girl named Mai, his own "Dragon Lady" from his beloved Terry and the Pirates cartoon strips that his mother still sends him. As he pursues a relationship with her, Saigon churns with intrigue and rumors--will the U.S. become more involved with the Vietnamese struggle? What's going on with a special unit that's bringing in all sorts of (for the time) high tech equipment? Will the U.S. make Vietnam the 51st state and bomb aggressors to oblivion? But for Joe, the big question is--does Mai love him or will she betray more than just his heart? Gary Alexander’s intelligent voice, filled with dry wit, and his own experiences give this story a sharp sense of truth, recounting the horror and absurdity of war. Reminiscent of books such as Catch-22, Dragon Lady serves up equal measures of outrageous humor and poignant remembrance.

Gary Alexander was one of 17,000 US soldiers in Vietnam that spring. When he left in the fall, there were 75,000 troops in-country. He is the author of several mystery novels, most notably the Buster Hightower series, and numerous mystery short stories. DRAGON LADY is his first literary novel.

This is my welcome home review. Betch'a' didn't even realize I was missing, did ya'? I didn't think so. Believe me, there are many, many, days I wonder if anyone ever reads my Blogger Blog. I've considered giving it up (many times). Truth be told: I love books. Furthermore, I love giving my opinion on things. All things. To give up the blog would be to squash out the tiny flame that keeps my soul healthy. I take breaks, but I always come back. 'Dragon Lady' in all its loveliness, is the perfect novel to bring me home again...
Cover: A
It's crisp. It's appropriate. It's intriguing. On the whole, Istoria Books, has some pretty great covers. This is no exception.
Story: A+
Yep, you read that right. This book not only gets an A, it gets a plus added on. When I started this book, I wasn't sure what to make of it. It had quite a bit of army lingo; it is based on Joe's time in 'Nam (never a topic I would have picked...yet I picked it. Go figure), as told from The Great Beyond. 
Gulp. Right off the bat, I felt I was in waaaay over my head. I read a few pages, contemplated shelving it, and took a nap. 
No, I'm not exaggerating. That's really how it happened. 
Somewhere between dozing in the rusty, old Explorer and making dinner, I decided to give it another go. There was something about the story (undefinable at the time) that kept calling me back.
Two chapters later, I couldn't put it down.
But what exactly drew me in? I'm still trying to put it all in a neat, little box. At first, it was the descriptions of the afterlife. Quite unique. Funny. Dry humor. I get it. Then, it was the 803rd's mission. What the heck was going on next door? Alien invasions? Torture? I hadn't a clue; but I *really* wanted to know...
And then there was Mai. Was she a spy? Would she fall in love with Joe and come back to the States? Would she be captured and killed? The suspense was killing me. I won't give you the answers. Where's the fun in that?
I loved this book. I know my husband will love this book as well. Sadly, I can't get it in e-pub for his nook (gasp! I know...he's a TRAITOR!). I wanted to send him overseas for his annual military training with this little gem--alas, it was not meant to be.
If you like war fiction, Vietnam stories (Gary Alexander actually did some time over there), love stories, and just plain old *good fiction*, this book is definitely for you.
But only if you have a kindle. Sorry e-pub readers. In this case, you are SOL.
That's all for now folks.
Stay tuned...March 1st I have a review and an author interview for your blog roll pleasure (will wonders never cease?) Until then...