Our War by Craig DiLouie Genre: Dystopian Thriller
Print Length: 401 pages
Publisher: Orbit Publication Date: August 20, 2019
A prescient and gripping novel of a second American civil war, and the children caught in the conflict, forced to fight.
Our children are our soldiers.
After his impeachment, the president of the United States refuses to leave office, and the country erupts into a fractured and violent war. Orphaned by the fighting and looking for a home, 10-year-old Hannah Miller joins a citizen militia in a besieged Indianapolis.
In the Free Women militia, Hannah finds a makeshift family. They'll teach her how to survive. They'll give her hope. And they'll show her how to use a gun.
Hannah's older brother, Alex, is a soldier, too. But he's loyal to other side, and has found his place in a militant group of fighters who see themselves as the last bastion of their America. By following their orders, Alex will soon make the ultimate decision behind the trigger.
On the battlefields of America, Hannah and Alex will risk everything for their country, but in the end, they'll fight for the only cause that truly matters - each other.
Critic Reviews “Craig DiLouie’s prose is eloquent, deeply compelling, and poses a possibility that alerts us to protect our world against such possibilities as depicted in this imaginative story. It touches many chords of recognition, and that is yet another trait of a brilliant writer. Highly recommended.” – San Francisco Review of Books, complete review here
“This may be one of the most important books you’ll read this year. I say that without an ounce of hyperbole… A heart-breaking, terrifying novel which—I desperately hope—will only be a warning, and not someday viewed as prophetic… Highly recommended.” – Cemetery Dance, complete review here
“Our War is a book that I just can’t recommend enough. It’s about love & hate & hope & despair. It’s like some fucked-up funhouse mirror version of America…but a version that is entirely too plausible at this point. This book is gorgeous, haunting, and it feels like an absolutely vital work of fiction right now.” – GrimDark Dad, complete review here
“Part epic war story, part cautionary tale, Our War is brutal, unflinching, and mesmerizing. DiLouie once again delivers an emotional body-slam of a book, one that’ll leave you shaken to your core.” — Peter Clines, author of Dead Moon “Our War went well beyond anything I might have foreseen, hitting me with unexpected strength: there is such a heart-wrenching quality to the story being told here, that I too often felt breathless with the chilling impact of it all.” – Space & Sorcery, complete review here
“Once again, DiLouie has managed to distill one of humanity’s greatest conflicts into a masterpiece of literature.” – The Fantasy Inn, complete review here
“An instant classic that will join the ranks of dystopian futures that at times feel all too real.” – New York Times Bestselling Author Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Craig DiLouie is an acclaimed American-Canadian author. Formerly a magazine editor and advertising executive, he also works as a journalist and educator covering the North American lighting industry. Craig is a member of the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, International Thriller Writers and Horror Writers Association. He currently lives in Calgary, Canada with his two wonderful children.
Craig DiLouie is an author of popular thriller, apocalyptic/horror, and sci-fi/fantasy fiction.
In hundreds of reviews, Craig’s novels have been praised for their strong characters, action, and gritty realism. Each book promises an exciting experience with people you’ll care about in a world that feels real.
At https://craigdilouie.com/, you can find all of Craig’s major works, interviews, and hundreds of interesting blog posts. Be sure to sign up for Craig’s mailing list so you can stay tuned on new releases.
With booming sales for classic works like 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale, dystopian fiction is enjoying a resurgence. These are stories in which a protagonist rebels (often unsuccessfully) against a brutal society inflicting suffering and injustice on its citizens, often in the name of some utopian ideal.
Is this any surprise? In the real world, growing economic inequality, environmental depletion and climate change, and the march of authoritarianism have made the world appear pretty bleak. Dystopia confirms our fears, whether political or existential, and manifests them in their worst possible outcome. Dystopian fiction is a warning.
I believe dystopian fiction is far more optimistic than we credit it. And I see its resurgence as a source of optimism. Yes, it’s bleak, but if we heed its warning, we can avoid this future. Yes, our hero may end up crushed, but we, the reader, will take up the fight. The mythical Cassandra’s prophecies may come true, but at least people are listening. As long as it doesn’t read as nonfiction, we’re still in pretty good shape.
My novel Our War similarly warns of a possible dark future America often feels like it is trending towards: a second civil war. As with other dystopian thrillers, I hope readers will come away warned and energized to resist this future.
In this novel, Congress impeaches and convicts a populist right wing president, who labels it a soft coup by the Deep State and refuses to leave office. A national armed protest by militias and other right wing groups snowballs into civil war, a war in which everybody fights and nobody wins.
This is the what but not the why. The why lies at the heart of polarization, fueled by alternate media, which is differing narratives defining what America is and should be. Without common facts or reality, without a single unifying idea, what is America? And without a single America, what does it mean to be a patriot?
A civil war would not play out like the last one, with states aligned for or against the institution of slavery and grappling with the balance of power as new states entered the Union. For Our War, my model was the Bosnian War of the 1990s, which pitted rural against urban and was largely fought by civilians. For years, the residents of a besieged Sarajevo and other cities lived in constant fear that over time became normalized. In America, rural areas are predominantly red, while urban areas are predominantly blue. Draw the battle lines there, and you can visualize a war whose first casualty would be American exceptionalism, as familiar consequences such as refugees, hunger, terror, and atrocities manifest in the fighting.
As with other dystopian fiction, Our War features protagonists fighting an oppressive force with utopian ideals, in this case the all-consuming war itself. The story centers on a brother and sister forced to fight as child soldiers on opposite sides of the lines surrounding a besieged Indianapolis. Hannah Miller, a war orphan, joins a local militia and believes in its cause. Meanwhile, a UNICEF worker and journalist work together to save her and other children by exposing the use of child soldiers. In the end, the war wins, and Hannah loses everything. But she will also find love and hope by rejecting all of the stories she’s been told and learning to fight for herself.
By the end of Our War, I hope the reader will find the same hope as Hannah and discover the same optimism as I found in her story. That they will take heed in Our War’s warning after closing the covers, and as with all good dystopian literature, stand ready to resist this possible future.
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