Five words from the blurb: Afghanistan, woman, bravery, war, body
The Watch begins with an emotional chapter in which a lone woman approaches an American base in Afghanistan. Her only wish is to give her brother a proper burial, but the soldiers refuse to release his body. This leads to the beginning of her dangerous vigil on the barren soil outside the base.
This first chapter was beautifully written, perfectly capturing the woman’s desperation and bravery.
Unfortunately everything went downhill from there. Subsequent chapters repeated the scene from the view point of different people within the army base, but this was unnecessary as the writing of the first chapter was so good I felt I knew their opinions already. This repetition meant that the majority of the book bored me. I longed for the story to be developed further, but instead it just seemed to go around in circles.
The American military personnel in this book were not portrayed in a favourable light – they swore continually, were rude, and had no consideration for local culture. I appreciated reading a book which showed the attitudes of the Afghani people, but I felt that the divide between American (evil) and Afghanis (good) was too strong - I’d have liked to see a few flawed characters on both sides.
The blurb informs me that this book is based on the myth of Antigone – a story I know nothing about. I suspect that this meant most of the underlying symbolism went over my head and if you have a knowledge of Greek tragedies you’ll gain more from reading this book than I did.
This book contained some fantastic scenes, but overall I was a little disappointed. I’m sure I’ll remember the beginning and the end for a long time to come, but the middle section did little for me. Most people seem to appreciate it a lot more than I did so please read their reviews before deciding whether or not to give it a try.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
Joydeep’s prowess in telling a story surpasses any other book that I have read this month. Of Books and Reading
Roy-Bhattacharya shows himself adept with descriptive prose and the build-up to the fire-fight is brilliantly realised. Just William’s Luck
It’s very challenging and not always easy to read in terms of the ideas and psychological complexity of its universe, but it’s a really incredible book. The Boston Bibliophile