Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Lonely War by Alan Chin

Publisher: Zumaya Publications

Genre: historical M/M, World War II

Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Review by HC for Amazon

War is hell, but for Seaman Andrew Waters - an Asian-American, pacifist, Buddhist – it is even more hellish because he is ostracized by his shipmates, leaving him completely alone. His only feelings of comfort come from his growing love for the executive officer of his ship, Lt. Mitchell. Although Andrew knows Mitchell will never return his love, it is enough that they go against naval regulations to strike up a close friendship.

When the crew of the USS Pilgrim become POWs in Changi, a Japanese prison camp on Singapore Island, Andrew is elevated though adversity to discover his inner resources, allowing him to sacrifice himself to save the life of his beloved. But of course, sometimes the Gods take notice of a courageous soul, and turn sacrifice into blessings.

The story takes place in three acts: Andrew’s deployment on a navel destroyer, the USS Pilgrim; his internment at the Changi POW camp; and the final act in Kyoto, Japan, a year after the Japanese surrender.

The promise that unfolded in this gifted author’s first novel, Island Song, comes into full bloom in this second, more intense novel. The Lonely War is not a romance, it is a real and poignant study of the relationships men form in a survival situation. It is complex, the characters are fully drawn, its rich details create an atmosphere faithfully true to its time and circumstance, and the bittersweet ending is unexpected yet appropriate to the story.

Billed as a historical gay novel, The Lonely War is actually much more than that limited label. It is a truly outstanding, well-written, character-driven story about life, love, beliefs, attitudes, war, and an eye-opening look at how we choose to deal with each of those issues. The erotic content is minor and not at all distracting, and the story is a refreshingly original page-turner of a masterpiece that I enjoyed immensely. Five bold stars out of five!

For more information about The Lonely War and Alan Chin, visit