I was incredibly disappointed in this book after the high ratings it received. The blurb sounded so promising. This is the first book I have read by this author. I won't attempt to recap the plot since that's been done several times already.
Firstly, I didn't understand why Crick and Deacon were in love. In fact, it almost seemed a little strange that everybody who met Deacon - gay, straight, male, female - seemed to fall madly in love with him. This was especially perplexing considering he kind of had a 2-dimensional personality. The characters never interacted in any meaningful way to indicate they were falling in love. The story simply moved from Crick having a seriously major adolescent crush on Deacon, to having them grow up into young adults, when suddenly they were madly and passionately in love. At that point the reader was just supposed to accept that this was the truest of true love... but I just didn't feel it.
Secondly, the writing was choppy. Frequently while reading this book I was surprised to find myself suddenly two or three months into the future from the previous paragraph. It was hard to follow, and there were way too many characters to keep track of. Not only did the sheer number of characters get perplexing, but we were supposed to care deeply about all of them.
Thirdly, the events and angst of this book felt SO contrived. The characters behaved in ways that did not feel natural or believable.
Finally - and this is probably the biggest reason why I got so disenchanted - this book is fraught with some pretty serious inaccuracies about the military. As a veteran, this bothered me a great deal. One of the leads - Crick - joins the Army. From that point in the book onward, I was cringing left and right at the blatant falsehoods about military enlistment, rank, deployments, and military culture. Worst of all, the things the author got wrong were things that could have been pretty easily researched.
I want to clear up a couple of things:
(1) When a person enlists into the active duty military... one does not enlist into a specific war. One simply enlists. The services then send their personnel to specific units. Units deploy wherever in the world their mission is needed. The author explicitly indicated that Crick signed up and was told at the recruiting station that he was going to Iraq. The recruiter doesn't send you to Iraq. The recruiter has no idea where you're going to go, or whether you'll deploy at all.
(2) In the book Crick enlists into the Army. He goes to boot camp. The instant his Sergeant finds out he was an EMT, his CO makes him an officer, a 2nd Lieutenant. This does not happen. Ever. In fact, it's impossible. A bachelors degree is required to be an officer, which Crick did not have (in fact, a big deal was made of the fact that he didn't go to college).
Further, an enlisted person cannot just "sign up" to be an officer in boot camp just because he was an EMT. In the story, Crick becomes an officer because he has 'medical training' and so they make him a 'medic.'
I've got news for you - Army medics are not officers. They are enlisted. In addition to enlisted medics, the Army also has medical officers, but they are doctors and nurses (with the appropriate degrees).
And as a former enlisted person, I actually kind of found this aspect slightly insulting. The author made it seem as though anybody with any sort of actual SKILL had to be an officer. Her view of enlisted people was that they have absolutely no specialized skills whatsoever except the ability to drive a tank and shoot a gun. When in fact, enlisted people have all manner of specialized skills, and serve in a wide variety of professions throughout the military.
If you're going to write a book involving the military, get the facts straight. I understand that military culture is not easily understood by civilians, but the errors this author made could have been so easily corrected by doing just a bit of research, and by talking to people in the military. Ms. Lane clearly did not do that.