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on June 10, 2011 :
This is a thought-provoking book, dealing as it does with one man's decision to go AWOL rather than be sent to war. The question of whether Alex has deserted his mates or exercised his right to refuse service in an illegal war is not a simple one. Anderson, however, manages to have his characters explore that question without bogging down the story. In the action scenes, this book reminded me of an Andy McNab thriller.
This is the third Steve Anderson book that I've read. It's not the best (that accolade goes to The Losing Role), but it is very good and certainly worth four stars.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on May 26, 2011 :
False Refuge by Steve Anderson is the thought-provoking story of Alex Swenson, an army reservist who has gone AWOL. Having fought for his country, Alex is left to determine what loyalty really means to him and how far he is willing to go. Alex soon makes up his mind that he is done with the violence and suffering and takes action into his own hands by going AWOL in hopes of starting over. He travels to an island in Hawaii where there are rumors that a place called Krieger Estates will help him stay hidden. Alex’s conscience is put to the test when he must decide between staying hidden or risking everything to disarm a gunned robber.
Alex happens to meet a local Hawaiian named Kanani who puts up a good cover of being an innocent local when really she has a dark and mysterious past that she is running from. Instantly drawn too Kanani, they go on the run together in hopes of starting new. Things turn out differently once they reach Krieger Estates when Kanani’s past may be more of a hindrance rather than an attraction. No matter their pasts, Alex and Kanani must stick together and enlist outside help to battle the powers that are demanding their obedience inside the Krieger Estates walls.
Mr. Anderson writes an extremely descriptive tale that allowed me to easily envision the scenery and really get a feel for Hawaiian climate. The descriptive details alone make this book a good read but is balanced out with a great story line as well. I could almost feel the wetness of rain soaking into my pores while reading False Refuge.
There are several issues covered in the book that may leave the reader agreeing, or disagreeing, with Alex and his beliefs on war. Is war needed to secure our freedom, is it just a necessary evil, or is it just a way for certain people to gain more power without having to get their own hands dirty? If you have an open mind when it comes to aspects such as war, I recommend giving False Refuge a try.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Feb. 17, 2010 :
Have you ever felt so strongly about something you'd be willing to give up everything? Alex Swenson did when he questioned what honor and loyalty really meant to him. Author Steve Anderson has created a cast of diverse and interesting characters who all have their reasons for establishing new identities on the Big Island of Hawaii. Steve Anderson has captured regional accents in his writing so well that I could hear some of the characters voices in my head while reading. Honestly, Alex Swenson and I would probably not agree with each other while sharing our beliefs over brewskis. But I have to say, even though we are so different, I still found myself empathizing with him as Steve Anderson developed and expanded on this characters experience. By far my favorite character was Swenson's girlfriend (Kanani) who I would love to see again in a future story. This was an easy to read, and well constructed story. I would recommend this book to anyone who can put their political ideals aside and enjoy the author's efforts to create this thrilling chess match in paradise.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Dec. 14, 2009 :
Rico Bocanegra is surely the finest alias for a fictional character in modern literature! Of course, with a name like that, I have to believe that Alex Swenson did not want his lie to go unnoticed. That, on some level, he always wanted to be held accountable for his actions and his point of view. I read Steve Anderson's, False Refuge, in a handful of sittings. It is the engaging and thought- provoking story of an army reservist gone AWOL. Even more, it is a meditation on war, politics, economics and social justice. The ultimate theme, as embodied in Alex Swenson, is personal responsibility and how the individual must take a principled stand, all the while, expecting to be held to account. In the absence of this individual, we get violence, war, injustice and Reacton Uni-Corp. But don't take my word for it. Give this book a read and decide for yourself.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)