A guest review by Sirius
Summary: A fast paced action/adventure which takes place in a fictional African country, but the settings are very recognisable from real African countries
Army sharpshooter and deserter Cooper Chance is trapped. Recruited from Iraq to fight in an African country ravaged by a chronic civil war, Cooper wants nothing more than to go home. Unfortunately, the only thing awaiting him in America is jail, and Cooper is acutely claustrophobic. Whether he likes it or not, he now leads the life of a mercenary, in a gritty world filled with thugs, prostitutes, and corrupt cops. To survive his desperate circumstances, Cooper trades diamonds. One day he wanders into a diamond shop, where he meets Sadiq, a young merchant as lost in the world as he is. As they fall in love, Cooper has no idea Sadiq has ulterior motives. Meanwhile huge oil reserves are discovered nearby, and the CIA offers Cooper a way home without jail time if he agrees to carry out a risky, high-stakes mission. Cooper will do anything to get home-except sell his soul to the devil. But when a teenage prostitute he has promised to save suddenly disappears, Cooper finally relents. Unfortunately, he has no idea that unexpected consequences await.
The blurb of this book promised an exciting adventure in unusual settings, so I decided to request it. I thought that it certainly delivered on the adventure part, though also thought that a blurb was a bit misleading on the love story part. I am the kind of reader who does not care if a love story is there or not (I mean I love romances, but will certainly read stories without one as long as I am in the mood for the appropriate genre), but for those of you who do, take heed. It is not a romance at all, not even close. I personally would not even say that this book contains a love story, but I can see how opinions on this may differ. I saw the main character falling in love, and I saw a possibility that in the future it could have been two-sided, but nothing more than that.
Did I enjoy the story regardless? Yes, I think I liked it; it is a harsh read, but a very realistic one. It takes place in a fictional African country, but as the author notes, the conditions are very recognisable for many African countries, sadly — poverty, human trafficking, what children have to do and go through on every day basis to survive. For me this story was quite painful to read because I know that all those things are going on in the world and so many people are dying because of it.
I found Cooper quite likeable, but I thought the author could have elicited more sympathy from me if many of the very painful things were portrayed as happening in the present instead of in the past. When the character recounts things that already happened I did not feel for him as strongly as I may have (although what he goes through in Ladanga was enough for me to wish for him to end his bad luck). As to the main character’s other circumstances, the blurb is pretty accurate. Life has dealt him several hard blows and he deals with his situation the best he can, trying to make the most of it while still having some compassion to help those he can help. I thought some of Cooper’s friends and acquaintances from Ladanga (that fictional African country) were the most memorable characters of the book, and I thought their portrayal was wonderful.
I felt that the plot did not drag at all and in fact, during some plot turns I was so impatient to read about what happens next. Another note/warning of sorts: American foreign policies — specifically how we deal with the small African countries who have oil — are portrayed very harshly, but sadly I found a lot of it to be very realistic as well.