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Deathwatch

by Robb White
220 pages, Suspense
Reviewed by Ariel_of_Narnia

Enjoyable and clean, though certainly not always pleasant. A great life-and-death survival story.

Plot

Ben has an intimate relationship with the phrases "wilderness experience", "near-death experience", and "life-and-death situation". The only reason he agrees to take Madec hunting for bighorn sheep is because he needs the money for college. When things get ugly, the situation escalates, leaving Ben without clothes, water, or supplies in a wide desert with forty-eight hours tops to live. Not to mention the madman with a gun hounding him the whole time.

Morality

Though Madec scoffs at Ben's commendable "Boy Scout" morals, Ben sticks to them unwaveringly and refuses to back down for anything.
It's made very clear from the beginning that Madec is not a good guy and time proves that he's even worse than initially perceived. He tries a few times to strike up deals with Ben, complete with threats, bribes, and twisted reasoning; the only time Ben concedes is when he's got a hidden agenda that works against Madec and breaks no laws.

Spiritual Content

Madec claims that he's a religious man (He's obviously not). Ben notes that his six-day beard gives him a "strange, Satanic look".
Descriptions of the landscape are given with evolutionary statements.

Violence

It's mentioned that Madec's gun had reduced a Gila monster to a splatter. A man is shot through. Madec threatens to shoot Ben, fires near him several times, and once shoots him through the arm. He not only allows Ben to spend what time he has left being killed by the desert, but also deliberately makes it impossible to survive and escape. Ben thinks for a few minutes Madec had planted a rattlesnake for him. He is quickly covered with cuts and bruises from rocks and debris caused by bullets. His pain increases as time goes on and is constantly alluded to. He remembers other people who'd died in the desert. The effects of dehydration are described. He shoots some birds and a lizard with a slingshot and eats them raw or partially raw. He shoots at Madec with the slingshot in preemptive self-defense, wounding him badly but nowhere near fatally.

Drug and Alcohol Content

None.

Sexual Content

Madec has Ben strip down to his shorts (underwear), which Ben eventually takes off to use as bandages for his feet. Madec also strips a dead body. From a distance, Ben observes Madec relieving himself. Ben is also once accused of sunbathing nude, though the only time prior to this story that he'd done anything like that was an experiment he did on how vultures react to seeing a body.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

None.

Conclusion

This intense survival story of both man-against-nature and man-against-man wastes no time building tension between the setting and the conflict. From then on, it's all struggle and described in such a way that you can't help but hope and despair in time with Ben. Not only is this book is a good and interesting read, but Ben's sense of right and wrong is a huge relief in a world of muddied morals (though, fair warning, those who prefer conflicted characters may wish Ben wasn't so morally perfect).

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: adult

Review Rating:

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