Leaving aside the fact that this novel’s protagonist is grossly implausible – a poorly educated youth who knows nothing yet philosophizes on everything like a cynical failed academic… Well, there’s no leaving aside this implausibility at the heart of this novel, one that has little or nothing to add to the jaded discussion on war and celebrity. The Guardian reckons that “Fountain does an excellent job of grafting an alienated, educated, leftish perspective on to his cast of young soldiers, but at times the mask slips. “They love to talk up God and country but it’s the devil they propose, all those busy little biochemical devils of sex and death and war that simmer at the base of the skull,” thinks Billy – a great line that doesn’t sound much like a 19-year-old who barely graduated from high school.” And the rest! Ben Fountain can write, yet at times it’s hard to know whether he’s merely patronizing the kind of people his protagonist is meant to represent, or he’s merely being cack-handed. And if this is “a Catch 22 for the Iraq War”, then I wonder what was a Catch 22 for World War Two. Yes, this novel does call out the pointlessness and absurdity of war, but most twelve year olds of the modern era are figuring it out for themselves: so what’s this book for?