Publisher: Istoria Books
Publish Date: March 21, 2011
Why I read this: Libby Sternberg is behind the new Istoria Books whose tagline is "eBooks You Want to Read at Prices You Want to Pay" and I have reviewed for her before. So when she contacted me about Dragon Lady and I read the premise I was very intrigued and could not wait to read the book.
My thoughts: Dragon Lady was an interesting and refreshing book. I loved the fact that the author made the narrator of the story looking back on his time in service in Vietnam and relating his present day life in "The Great Beyond". Yes, the narrator is dead. And yes, that makes the book very interesting.
I like how the author interspersed the after life and the past life. It was really nicely done and it never launched into the other life at a moment that felt wrong. The book is not jumpy at all. The after life adds interest without taking away from the storyline of the past. Both storylines just work very well together and I think this is something that is hard to do but Mr. Alexander does it well.
I really liked Joe. He was sarcastic, witty, had some anger management issues, was honest but the author made him feel really human as well. He's not one of those sarcastic characters that is removed from life, just living on his sarcasm and wit. No, there is a lot more to Joe, the sarcasm and wit just make him entertaining. I liked getting into his head both in the past and in "The Great Beyond". He's a fascinating character and watching him grow at times and backpedal at times is extremely interesting. Joe as a character drives the book very well. I also liked Ziggy in his past life - the man could come up with quotes at a moments notice and he's Joe's best friend/partner-in-crime in Vietnam. And I liked Smitty, Joe's neighbor in "The Great Beyond" who proves to be interesting as well.
The setting is wonderful as well. The book really benefits from the fact that the author served in Vietnam during the time of the book. The descriptions of places and people around Saigon were brought to life for me and I felt like I was there even though I know very little about the country and even very little about the war. Mr. Alexander has a way with words in his descriptions that make them interesting without becoming too wordy. He has a great balance that keeps the book flowing from the first page to the last.
This was an interesting look into the Vietnam conflict before it escalated. An interesting look into the inner workings of things going on with the Army in Saigon. I think Mr. Alexander's time in Vietnam brings a credibility to what is in the book though I'm sure it's not an overall reflection of all that was going on during 1965.
Dragon Lady is a highly entertaining book that I heartily recommend. The writing is very well done, the story is different and interesting and the characters feel like people you know. It's just one of those books that grabs you and doesn't let you go and leaves you thinking about it even when you are finished. So run, don't walk and try this author out, see if Dragon Lady grabs you like it grabbed me.
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
About the Book:
In 1965 Saigon, Joe, a young draftee, becomes obsessed with a Vietnam girl named Mai, his own "Dragon Lady" from his beloved Terry and the Pirates cartoon strips that his mother still sends him. As he pursues a relationship with her, Saigon churns with intrigue and rumors--will the U.S. become more involved with the Vietnamese struggle? What's going on with a special unit that's bringing in all sorts of (for the time) high tech equipment? Will the U.S. make Vietnam the 51st state and bomb aggressors to oblivion? But for Joe, the big question is--does Mai love him or will she betray more than just his heart? Gary Alexander’s intelligent voice, filled with dry wit, and his own experiences give this story a sharp sense of truth, recounting the horror and absurdity of war. Reminiscent of books such as Catch-22, Dragon Lady serves up equal measures of outrageous humor and poignant remembrance.
About the Author:
Gary Alexander was one of 17,000 US soldiers in Vietnam that spring. When he left in the fall, there were 75,000 troops in-country.
Also see Gary's guest blog on The Genesis of Dragon Lady.
Libby at Istoria Books is offering a code to receive a copy of Dragon Lady by Gary Alexander for free from Smashwords, so you can get it in the format you want. All you need to do is fill out the form below. Open Internationally, and the giveaway will run through 4/6/2011.
If you can't see the form below, you can find it here.