- Fizzy Thoughts: The God of War

The God of War

Thursday, June 18, 2009


The God of War
Marisa Silver
April 2008
271 pages

I read this book on my flights to Portland. Since I flew the scenic route (San Luis Obispo to Phoenix, Phoenix to Portland) I had plenty of time to read. And for once, I was surrounded by other readers. It was quite relaxing.

Ares is the God of War. He is also our narrator, a young boy of 12 living with his mother Laurel and his younger brother Malcolm on the edge of the Salton Sea. It’s 1978 and Laurel is somewhat of a hippie, preferring to live in a trailer on the edge of society.

While Laurel refuses to label Malcolm, or even have him diagnosed, it is apparent that he is developmentally disabled, possibly autistic. Ares isn’t really sure what is wrong with his brother, but he is sure that it’s his fault. As a result, he is both protective and resentful of Malcolm. As Laurel struggles to keep herself together, Ares becomes increasingly defiant and is drawn into a friendship with a troubled teenager. His actions lead to some pretty shocking consequences.

The Salton Sea is in the desert in Southern California, and its stark beauty provides the setting for the novel. Like the area, the tone of this novel is bleak. Ares is reflecting back on this period of his childhood, and while there is no apparent joy, neither is their great sadness. Rather, there is the frustration of a budding teenager unsure of his body and his place in his family and the world. This is a coming-of-age story, as Ares fights to establish an identity separate from his family. I’m sure it’s full of all sorts of metaphors and other meanings, too, but I’m going to stop before I go places I know nothing about.

While I found this to be an excellent book, it's not one of those books about which you say “I loved it! You should read it!!” But if you like thoughtful coming-of-age stories focusing on boys, juvenile delinquents, remote locations and people who drop out of society, then this one’s for you. You can read an excerpt here.

3 comment(s):

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I like coming of age stories about boys since I never had a brother or a son, and males are so hard to figure out! So I like to read these! Thanks for the review!

bkclubcare said...

Do you think Chartroose would like this? Your last paragraph made me think she just mght....

Joanne said...

This sounds interesting, and I really liked the excerpt that you linked to. The writing seems like the type that flows so well there is no need for major action or tension. It has a nice feel to it.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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