Besides a few exceptions, books assigned to me by a teacher were almost always boring or the diction was so far out of my vocabulary that I often had no clue what was going on(*coughs* Shakespeare). But to my surprise, The Things They Carried was a fantastic novel that reveals the brutal and complicated reality of the Vietnam War. It follows Tim O’Brien as he recollects on his time in Vietnam with Alpha Company.
The Things They Carried is a novel that feels so real. I think that is the best thing I can say about it. The experiences, the emotions each character has, and their reactions feel planted in reality. Each character is unique. They have their own set of personalities that sets them apart from one another. Not only that, but it forms an emotional connection to the reader. That is something that is not often seen in a war novel. They feel like an actual person, not just another no name soldier. Each event that occurs is described with great detail. It really immerses you into the life of a soldier. O’Brien holds nothing back. This is a very brutal book and it benefits from that. He wants to show just how difficult it was to be a soldier. The fights, the deaths, the daily tasks. It always feels genuine. In fact, the book itself straddles the line between fiction and reality. O’Brien’s genius tactic of blurring the lines between fiction and reality also speaks to the cloudiness that surrounded the Vietnam War. The soldiers really did not know why they were there. They were just told to do so. It’s a book that stays with you long after you read it. Its messages of war still stands the test of time. These are not soldiers we are sending out, they are people with family who cares for them. The title adds to that as well. The title not only refers to the tangible items soldiers carried such as weapons, but more abstract things as well. Their experiences, emotions, and memories, that’s what they truly carry.
This is a fairly short review, but I can’t praise this book enough. I thought I would hate it, and it is now one of my favorite books of all time. It feels so real, so genuine. Every character, every event, every emotion. It’s simply fantastic. Just go ahead and read this book.
Rating:6/5 (yes, that is right. It breaks the scale.)