It is a military sci-fi that doesn't include weapon-porn (so we are not subjected to what size rounds fit in which type of gun, nor how many revolutio..Show More »ns ammunition might make in a gun barrel, or the armour penetration per inch by weapon type, etc). I like military-ish fiction that doesn't include gun/military enthusiasts' fantasies, so this book fit the bill for me.
Sure, some of the military stuff was glossed over, and some of the sci-fi was glossed over... and really, it wasn't all that sci-fi-y. It's almost like a straight up "look, I survived an atrocious war even though I came out scarred" novel. There was nothing in it that is outside the current realm of possibility: although some of the tech might not actually exist yet, the theories behind the tech does.
But the book isn't really even about war, it's about the people impacted by war...
The main character isn't a soldier. And that means we get to see a very long war from an alternative point of view. I also think it allowed Oscar to be better written, and more humanized than he would have been if he was a proper soldier. i.e. there was no real harm in him being high as a kite in the midst of battle since he wasn't really supposed to be there anyway.
The story is actually one of growth and maturity: it's the maturation of one man - because of, or in spite of, a horrendous war background. There is some (not overly moralistic) message about how war scars people psychologically, and how our veterans may not receive the respect and help they require after returning... particularly in circumstances where the "war" has slipped from the front page.
The narration is fine. Surprisingly, there is not much gore or swearing, and there is no detailed sex. The story is wrapped up completely at the end.