Renee Conoulty: Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker

military war amputee IED explosion
A stunning first novel--of patriotism, heroism, and profound humanism--that will immediately take its place on the shelf of classics about what it truly means to be at war.
Captain Tom Barnes, leading British troops in the war zone. Two boys growing up there sharing a prized bicycle and flying kites before finding themselves estranged once foreign soldiers appear in their countryside. The man who trains one boy to fight the other's father as well as the infidel invaders. The family and friends who radiate out from these lives on all sides of this conflict. These are the people who populate this fiercely dramatic and moving novel. But we see them not as they see themselves, but as all the objects surrounding them do: shoes and boots, a helmet, a trove of dollars, a drone, that bike, weaponry, a bag of fertilizer, a medal, a beer glass, a snowflake, dog tags, an improvised explosive device--forty-five different inanimate narrators whose unexpected voices tell the story of this heart-stopping journey. Anatomy of a Soldier gives us a way to clearly see and understand those who fight wars in ways we never have before.

Hey! Here's my review


I heard some hype online from some fellow book bloggers, so decided to hunt this book down. The concept sounded intriguing - a story told from the perspectives of a series of inanimate object. The result far surpassed my expectations. 

The author never tells you which objects are narrating the chapter, he shows you. I loved stringing together the clues and working out what the object was. I was amazed by how different each objects voice was, from the factual military objests such as the main character's helmet, to the caring medical objects such as the call buzzer. 

The story is told in non linear fashion, jumping back and forth in time and retelling sections of scenes from a different perspective. I read an interview with the author where he said "You could chuck the chapters into the air and read them in any order – that’s what it’s like to be blown up." He certainly achieved that. This technique also added to the build up of suspesne as the full story was slowly unveiled. The story didn't feel slow though, as I often find with literary style writing.. 

This was more than a literary tale, it was: a collection of short stories, a tragedy, a romance, a personal growth story, a story of grief, brutal, tender,  a British story, a Middle Eastern story, a story that made me smile, a tale that brought a tear to my eye. It's the story of a soldier, but it's so much more than that. It's a story that has me talking.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

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