A modern day coming-of-age story detailing the life and decisions of Sammy Harvitz; a dissatisfied teen on a voyage of self discovery, who doesn't really know what he's looking for, or what he wants in life. His attempts at finding himself lead to many strange places, including the punk-rock scene, the army, prison, and the streets; and the decisions he's faced with - good or bad - ultimately lead him to unexpected conclusions about himself and his generation.
At first glance, I wondered what the title, Harvitz, As to War, alluded to, as well as why the cover had a "home-made" permanent marker and duct-tape theme going on., but I liked the overall cover presentation. After reading, I realized that the "war" was inside Sammy and that the cover was the perfect representation of his mentality: imperfect, young, and unsettled - a modern wanderer. It took me about 75 pages to actually get into the book and get a hint as to what was going on. This was partially because Sammy's logic was so strange, and because there were a few sections that felt "clunky" and had to be reread, but after the lull, I really started to enjoy reading about Sammy's trials and tribulations, no matter how ridiculous, painful, or depressing. Sammy was really easy to sympathize with, but I felt that his overall character was a bit lacking, I never got a clear picture of him or his personality because he seemed to make random decisions and was a complete follower throughout the book; always making changes based on the opinions/styles of others. I think that it would have been easier to understand him if I had known "when" certain events were happening; there was no real way to plot out a timeline for his character, so I had no idea if months or years had passed throughout the story. The plot-line was confusing at times, but still entertaining, although the ending was very abrupt and left me wanting for some sort of conclusion never written. The author page photo kind of reminded me of Sammy, which was a really cool idea - intended or not, but I think a readers discussion or guide would have been useful too. Overall, Ben Nadler's first novel is definitely worth the read, and I am interested in reading other books he pens, especially if there is some sort of continuance. Recommended for teens and adults looking for an interesting coming-of-age story where change doesn't always come easy.
Rating: Bounty's Out (3.5/5)