Verdict: WAR OF RAIN effectively explores the effects of violence and trauma on a teen who is forced to grow up quickly in a hostile environment.
WAR OF RAIN tells the story of Miri, a 15-year-old who lives in Boreala, a village in a parched desert where Rain is venerated. The citizens of Boreala compete with neighboring Stratos for Rain. Miri accidentally kills someone from Stratos and war ensues. In order to save her village, Miri must find Kalono, the God of Rain and ask Him to intervene to bring an end to the conflict. In the process, she braves harsh trials in an even harsher environment, betrayal and yet, through it all, she manages to persevere, learn and mature.
On another level, the book delves into the concepts of chaos and its relation to invention, and there are several not-so-subtle spiritual references to ancient Greek, Native American and Judeo-Christian traditions.
The author uses first-person narrative in telling the story and, in doing so, captures the reader’s interest via Miri’s somewhat profound reflections and the face-paced action sequences. The plot is believable and the writing is tight and penetrating: “The face I’d seen on the birth-marked barbarian, the one I’d been so quick to compare to my own. That is the face of a murderer. Oh, dear Kalono. I’ve just killed someone. That face is mine.” The author’s use of metaphors is superb and greatly adds to the flow of the story: “I grow still, imagining him breaking my skull the minute the metal is in his hands. But his eyes look so innocently into mine, the way a newborn colt looks at its mother …”
WAR OF RAIN has several highly dramatic, emotionally-charged events, yet the characters’ words and responses are often far too intellectual, which leaves the reader feeling unfulfilled and unengaged.
WAR OF RAIN is well-suited for the classroom and it has several pages of interesting discussion questions at the end. Readers may well find themselves reflecting upon the story and comparing it to survival situations faced by many young people at home, school and in violence-ridden countries such as Iraq and Syria, where young adults must inflict harm or kill others in order to survive, afterwards reliving the traumatic events in their minds over and over again. What volatile emotions do these young people feel (perhaps, guilt, depression, and hope?) and how do they compare with those of the main characters in the book?
WAR OF RAIN effectively explores the effects of violence and trauma on a teen who is forced to grow up quickly in a hostile environment.