The Yellow Birds – Kevin Powers

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The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers was the book club read for May and one of which we thought used very vivid imagery in order to tell the story. This was a fictional account of the author’s time in Iraq and at times we all struggled to think if this was fiction or fact.  The Author’s reason for writing this novel was to tell the story of what it was like over there and although it gave a definite flavour, we feel that it didn’t give an altogether accurate account of what really happens, whilst fighting for your country. However, this may well be the author’s way of dealing with events that he would rather not think about, as we can only imagine what atrocities he may have accounted.

Some of our members would have preferred a more balance view, as this only told the story from one view point.  The descriptive language as well was thought to be a tad over used and may well reflect that the author’s previous published work was as a poet.  The structure of the book was also deemed to be a tad confusing, going backwards and forwards and a few of us agreed that we had to read sections of the book several times to understand where we were in the timeline.  However, one reason for this maybe that it was there to show Bartle coming to terms with Murphy’s death.

We also struggled with sympathy towards the characters as it became confusing who to feel sympathy for; the author or the character?  The Sergeant was also considered to be light relief, although one member disliked him and a few decided he wasn’t doing an effective job in rallying the troops.

The premise of The Yellow Birds was also disliked due to the fact that this marching song was effectively telling you to stamp on the birds – not really something that you wish to rejoice in!

To conclude we did think that it wouldn’t be one to recommend and that there are more definitive war novels out there.

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