David Zimmerman has crafted a remarkable and memorable novel about life in the Iraqi desert. The brilliant pacing of the plot is not hindered by character development, and vice-versa. The writing is so effective that readers might feel grit in their teeth during the descriptions of the sandstorms and feel the tacky texture of blood during the scenes of attack.
The Sand Box starts with a bang - literally. Private Durrant, a good-hearted but good-for-nothing kid from Georgia, and his fellow soldiers are blasted while driving their Humvees through the vast expanse of Iraq. Though he is your basic infantryman fighting a war he doesn’t believe in, Durrant doesn’t let his politics get him down: he’s there to do a job. To stay focused, he sets aside his views and files away images of gore for future nightmares once he gets back home.
In the ‘war on terror,’ there is often a gray area between those who can be trusted and those who cannot, so it is not a stretch for Durrant to begin to suspect corruption within his unit and the former Iraqi fort that is now his base. A series of bizarre events lead Durrant, and some of his cohorts, to discover traitors are in the midst - and the high crimes he believes took place were perpetrated by some very high-ranking officers.
Zimmerman’s storyline takes place over a matter of a few days, which makes
the chapters fly by. The reader is taken for a ride with the overtired and under-supplied men fighting in the sandbox known as Iraq. As more novels about the war are published, The Sand Box will quickly stand up, demand attention, and set the standard for the genre.
Pros: Frank dialog and descriptors make the action feel real, too real; plot reads like a spy thriller but with much more authenticity and believability; edge of your seat sensation continues until the last paragraph, literally.
Cons: There is one recurring metaphor that gets a little sappy at times.
Bottom Line: Zimmerman’s novel reminds you, with spine-tingling prose, to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Highly Recommended.