Cooper's Promise - Timothy Jay Smith This is review is going to be a bit serious, I think. But let me preface it by saying that it was fan-fucking-tastic. I really, really enjoyed Cooper's Promise and if Mr Smith doesn't option the movie rights it will be a great tragedy, because I think it would be remarkable, necessary film. That said, it was indeed a remarkable, necessary book and I'm so, so glad I read it.

It's set in a fictitious African country and tells the story of Cooper Chance; a beautiful, broken, runaway US soldier who manages to be extraordinarily resilient and naive at the same time. It's been marketed as MM romance, but there is so much more to this story. In fact, the romance element is almost superfluous and the thing that I found most compelling about this novel was not the love story, or the characters or even the action. What I really appreciated was the extremely realistic portrayal of an African country gone to Hell. See, I live in Africa. Okay, I live in South Africa, which is one of the more stable countries on this vast, amazing, ugly continent. But I've been in contact with refugees from the endless, pointless civil wars that flair up almost monthly in some parts of Africa; and even with my secondhand knowledge of all that horror, I find the verisimilitude stunning. It is very well researched, which I always appreciate. The fact that the author has chosen to write about human trafficking and war in such a weirdly nonjudgmental way is kind of amazing. They're such important topics, I certainly couldn't do justice to them. But I think Smith handled it with great compassion.

The only fault I can find with this book is that there are too many serious, global-type issues. The American offensive in the Middle East, terrorism, civil war, slavery, fundamentalism, religious homophobia, paedophilia, abuse. It's a little overwhelming, and the book's not that long. But kudos to Mr Smith for broaching it. Anyway, it really is a fantastic read, but be warned that it is kind of bleak.