SIMPLE MACHINES by Manuel Carreon & Marla Dean

SIMPLE MACHINESThis is going to be a tough review. The hardest I’ve ever written. I’m very torn here.

I was contacted by Slaughter House Press and sent SIMPLE MACHINES to read and review. I was ever so happy to do so just like I am with anyone who contacts the book club. I thought this was a first-person account novel, like all the others I put on the reading schedule.

I opened the book and read, “SIMPLE MACHINES is a work of fiction.” I was immediately disappointed. Very rarely do I ever put a fictional book on the reading schedule as the focus of the club is to tell the stories of our American service member’s experiences in real-life, actual events, non-fiction historical accounts. The exception being historical fiction such as Huey by Jay and David Groen (August 2014 Book of the Month). The events in that book are actual events that occurred by two brothers in Vietnam and condensed into one character. So, their stories should be told.

The book began the story in a writing style I would describe as, “fluff writing” where the author uses 27 more words per paragraph than necessary to describe details that are uninteresting and unimportant. I find it difficult to become engaged in that style and I had a difficult time pushing through it.

As the story gets more involved the writing turns “normal” and it’s much easier to read. However, I was still struggling with the book being fiction. I would really like to know if these are actual accounts witnessed and experienced by Manuel Carreon or if this was a completely fabricated story. Knowing that, like knowing Huey was actual events, would help make this review a lot easier to write. The reason I struggle with this type of fiction is that it places non-factual events into my head when I am trying to learn all the events that my brothers and sisters are experiencing in combat.

Once I hit about 60% into the book, it was very engaging and I could not put it down. The book is very accurate in the way of telling the effects of combat. I have no doubt that portion is real. That last 40% went by quickly and I enjoyed the book very much.

I am glad I pushed through and read it. The last half of the book made it worth it. If these are actual experiences, I take back what I said earlier in this review and would have it proudly listed on the book club’s reading list. If all the events are fabricated, well, it should be chalked up to fiction for that targeted audience, not a book club such as this.

In summary, is it a good read? The answer is yes. I have read many reviews for it on and Goodreads and it’s reviews are very positive. However, I have to be true to my intent of this book club and state that caution needs to be observed since it’s a book of fiction.


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