Brian Van Reet enlisted into the US Army shortly after 9/11, and this experience is obvious from the very first page of his debut novel, Spoils.
Van Reet’s insight into the reality of war furnishes his straightforward prose with vivid detail and gives the novel its hard-hitting punch.
Once it gets going, Spoils is fast-paced, chopping and changing between narrators and dates, echoing the chaos and confusion of combat.
It’s refreshing to read a war story that offers more than the traditional ‘American male hero’ perspective.
The three-pronged narrative follows eight weeks in the lives of Cassandra, a 19-year-old American soldier who is held a prized captive by the mujahedeen; Abu Al-Hool, a lifelong jihadi struggling to adjust to the new direction of his brotherhood; and Sleed, a tank crewman caught up in the rescue attempt of Cassandra and her crew. Each offers a unique perspective on the unfolding events.
Spoils doesn’t shy away from brutality, but offers an honest glimpse into the action, emotion and futility of war.