Review: Dreaming the Enemy by David Metzenthen.

Title – Dreaming the Enemy
Author – David Metzenthen
Publication Date – March 23rd 2016 by Allen & Unwin
ISBN – 9781760112257
RRP – $22.99 NZD
My Rating – ★★★/5

Johnny Shoebridge has returned from fighting in the jungles of Vietnam. He doesn’t carry a gun anymore – instead he’s carrying photos of the dead and a fear of the living.

Johnny is being chased by a ghost he bought back with him from Vietnam called Kahn. Now, he’s decided to make a final stand against this enemy. johnny knows that if he can’t find a way to lay Kahn to rest he will be a prisoner of war forever.

Drawing on courage, loyalty and love, Johnny struggles to find a way back from the nightmare of war to some hope for his future.

I received a copy of Dreaming the Enemy from Allen and Unwin New Zealand to review. This sounded really good when I read the synopsis but there was one thing that ruined it for me.

This book had so much potential (for me) but the author had this really  annoying habit of using two names for his protagonist. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d used ‘Johnny’ for the present and ‘Shoey’ for the flashbacks but he used both names in the same paragraph. I’ll share a spoiler free example –
“Thanks. You too.” Johnny meant it. The man might be well-off but he was fair and reasonable. There was a lot to be said for that. Shoey turned and walked away.
That happens a lot throughout the book and it really drove me crazy. Just pick a name and stick with it! It really did ruin the book for me, I just couldn’t enjoy it because the main characters name kept changing.

I did like the story once I started to ignore the name thing. I chose to call him Johnny Ce_Oon-XEAAA6grthrough the book and ignore ‘Shoey.’ I don’t read a lot of books based around wars and I’ve never read a book about the Vietnam War. I’ve also never talked to anyone that’s fought in a war. But I do know that a lot of people have problems like PTSD when they get home.

Johnny and a lot of men were conscripted to fight and die in a war they didn’t believe in. The ones who did come back were injured physically and/or mentally. Johnny was having flashbacks to his time in the war and dreams (both while he was awake and asleep) of a man called Kahn that he fought in Vietnam. Johnny decides to live out the flashbacks to the end of the story in the hope that once he’s relived everything that’s happened to him it’ll be over and he can move on.

Johnny goes on a journey, across Australia and in his mind, to get back to the person he used to be before he went to Vietnam, or as close as he can get because the war changed him. But Johnny is determined that it won’t ruin his future.

Overall I did like Dreaming the Enemy but there was that one thing that really annoyed me and unfortunately ruined it for me. I don’t know if I’ll be reading any other books of David’s any time soon.

*Thank you Allen and Unwin New Zealand for sending me a copy to review*

Have you read Dreaming the Enemy? Or any other books by Metzenthen? What did you think of them?

– Aimee.

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