November 17, 2011
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
Fallen Angels takes place in the Vietnam war and follows an enlisted black soldier named Perry. He, along with some friends and comrades in arms he meets along the way is dropped in Vietnam where, despite being told that the war may be ending soon, they have to fight in skirmishes and just try to stay alive. Each handles it their own way but Perry finds himself growing close to PeeWee, another black soldier and they share their fears of the war together. With enemies all around and terrible food, Perry finds himself wondering how he got here since he was supposed to have a medical file keeping him away from the fighting and he just wishes he could get back to the "World."
Perry was an ok character. Since the author chose to focus on the war from the black soldiers it offered a different perspective than one might normally see. Perhaps the soldiers were treated a little bit different, but for the most part I think it was the same view of war as any other person would have. He was scared and didn't really want to be there, seems universal to me. I liked PeeWee, he offered some comedic relief to the book which was taking place in a not so comedic atmosphere. The other characters I could take or leave, none of them really added anything for me.
The jargon in this book was kind of hard to follow. I don't know much about war or weapons but this book seemed to think that I would and only gave the barest descriptions of what some things were. And it may just be me, but the way these men talked and some of the things they did just didn't seem to fit the Vietnam era. It seemed more modern than that. I will concede that it was probably authentic to war itself though. The language was somewhat slang and offered a more unique readability than if it had been written without it. There is a lot of mention of death, violence, pain, and fear and these can be some pretty heavy themes. But considering this book is about war I think it is to be expected. I do think that the book was paced too fast. While we get some of the emotions coming through it just seems like it bounced around a bit and you never had a chance to grow close to the characters.
Not really a book for me but as said before I can see it appealing to teenage boys. There's enough action in there along with that tiny squeak of emotion that they may find it interesting. I'm not sure I'd check anything else out by Walter Dean Myers, but I won't write him off completely.