The dark progression of POW is driven by Abby, who holds her compatriots in thrall with her charisma and sex appeal. As the group’s activities stray further and further from its pacifist roots, sensitive readers will find the lurid and gory descriptions of violence disturbing. Jayne, whose utter devotion to Abby rivals her infatuated male housemates, embraces POW’s ominous mission creep and relates their violent exploits with gleeful relish, creating a jarring juxtaposition and discordant tone that will keep readers both unsettled and engrossed.
Although Abby’s frequent strident speeches and Jayne’s dogmatic rationalizations infuse the book with philosophical and political commentary, The World Without Mirrors never feels stuffy or gets bogged down. Instead, the plot surges along, with its steadily rising tension intermittently disrupted by genuine shocks. Bruechle’s playful language, occasionally tinged by his Australian roots, belies the story’s serious subject and imparts an energy to the narrative that makes for inviting reading. Though the story tends toward the sensational and outrageous, it nevertheless proves thought-provoking and insightful. This fiery critique of American foreign policy is a page-turner that is bound to shock, fascinate, and challenge its readers.
Takeaway: Open-minded readers up for a hard look at America’s involvement in foreign wars will find this novel an exciting read.
Great for fans of: Laleh Khadivi’s A Good Country, Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang, Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: B