Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Review: And West Is West by Ron Childress

Title: And West Is West
Author: Ron Childress
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publish Date: October 13, 2015
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "When Jessica, a young Air Force drone pilot in Nevada, is tasked with launching a missile against a suspected terrorist halfway across the world, she realizes that though women and children are in the crosshairs of her screen, she has no choice but to follow orders. Ethan, a young Wall Street quant, is involved in a more bloodless connection to war when he develops an algorithm that enables his company’s clients to profit by exploiting the international financial instability caused by exactly this kind of antiterrorist strike. These two are only minor players, but their actions have global implications that tear lives apart--including their own. When Jessica finds herself discharged from the service and Ethan makes an error that costs him his job, both find themselves adrift, cast out by a corrupt system and forced to take the blame for decisions they did not make."

My Two Cents:

"And West is West" is a thought-provoking debut novel by Ron Childress. In this day and age, wars are often fought from way off of the battlefield. Jessica is in the military and flies drones used on the battlefields of the Middle East from a safe stateside location. Ethan has found a way to harness political instability which in turn feeds into financial instability to make money hand over foot for his company. This novel explores ethics in the modern age where technology often blurs the lines.

This was such an interesting novel! The two main characters represent two powerful ideas in this modern world. Jessica is fighting a war from the other side of the world. She realizes that war waging in this way totally depersonalizes everything for her. She wonders if she is doing the right thing, especially because she's not on the ground. Much of her part of the book focuses on her struggle with what it means to be a world away from the chaos she is causing. Ethan likes making money but has his own struggle in the way that he's doing it. It was so interesting to see how the author showed changes in both characters throughout the book.

I really like when books leave you thinking long after you've closed the book. I especially like grappling with the idea of ethics, which this book definitely grapples with. The writing of the book is fairly even but could stand to be slimmed down in some parts of the story but overall it flows nicely.



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