Growing up on Guam in 1972, fifteen-year-old Kiko is beset by worries: He’s never kissed a girl, and he thinks it’s possible he never will. The popular guys get all the attention, but the worst part is that Kiko has serious problems at home. His older brother is missing in Vietnam; his grandfather is losing it to dementia; he just learned that his mother was raped in World War II by a Japanese soldier. It all comes together when he discovers an old man, a Japanese soldier, hiding in the jungle behind his house. It’s not the same man who raped his mother, but, in his rage, Kiko cares only about protecting his family and avenging his mom – no matter what it takes. And so, a shy, peaceable boy begins to plan a murder. But how far will Kiko go to prove to himself that he’s a man ? Based on a historical incident, No Surrender Soldier is the story of a boy grappling with ancient questions of courage and manhood before he can move on.
No Surrender Soldier is a powerful read, but I have to admit that I was pretty bored throughout the whole thing. It reads as a historical nonfiction book. I don’t know if that was the ultimate plan, but blah. I felt like I was reading an assigned book for class. I could tell that the writing itself was strong, but I just need more adventure and connection to the characters than this book offered.
I really enjoyed that the main character was not your typical white character. It offered diversity and insight to a whole other culture. No Surrender Soldier is a book that I will be quick to recommend to all student age children to immerse themselves in other cultures/religions/mind frames. However, it is not a book that I would recommend to a huge YA lover. It’s more of an educational read.
The characters in No Surrender Soldier were also spot on. Everyone had their own individual voices and personalities. In books like this one, I often worry that the characters will just sort of blend in to each other. That wasn’t the case at all. As I said before, the writing was very strong. It just…..fell a little flat for me.
Overall, I did enjoy reading this one, but I think this is a genre that I will be staying far away from. No Surrender Soldier is a book that I would recommend teachers and parents supply to their students/children, but it’s not a book I would offer up to the YA community.
Publication Date: January 1st, 2014
Publisher: Merit Press