This book. THIS. MOTHER. LOVING. BOOK. Jeezuz.
Okay. For some background, I am recently returned from a foray behind the Great Firewall of China which basically means my internet access was incredibly limited. So, like any sensible person, I took books with me. SO many books (okay, it was like three, but I was only there for two weeks and I had tourist things to do).
Now, this book, ENEMY MINE, is something I have had for a while. Actually, I’ve read it before and it was lovely but, even though it’s only barely over 200 pages, I was forced to read it in short, sporadic bursts which, as you probably know, tends to lessen the impact of a thing. I decided to take it with me because it had been a while since that first time and I wanted to try again.
I cried. There were actual tears running down my face in the middle of a crowded Boeing 747. ACTUAL TEARS GUYS. THIS IS A BIG THING.
NOW, if you are going to read this book for yourself (which I highly recommend yes please do), there are several things I feel it is my duty to inform you of.
- Have you seen the movie they made in the 80’s with Dennis Quaid? No? GOOD. Yes? FORGET THAT SHIT. The movie really wasn’t that awful as cheesy 80’s sci-fi goes, but in terms of the original story written by Barry B. Longyear? FORGET THAT SHIT. There wasn’t even a mine in the book. That was literally just thrown in there because they thought the title “Enemy Mine” as in “my enemy” would be too subtle for the audience and they wouldn’t get it. UGH. And really? Everyone knows that the book is better than the movie. No matter how good the movie is (certain examples that sound kind of like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter come to mind), it will never be able to go into quite the same detail as the book. But especially in this case, if you have to pick the book or the movie, go with the book. Because FUCK the movie.
- THE TAG LINE AND SUMMARY ON THE COVERS OF THE BOOK ARE DIRTY SCOUNDRELS AND THEY LIE TO YOU. Especially if you have the copy I have (the one in the picture). Because seriously,
"Soldiers bred for combat - one human, one alien - they faced the ultimate battle"?
Seriously, guys? That’s the best you could come up with? Nono, wait. Hang on. The summary might be better…
”On a distant planet, at the height of the war between the Dracon Empire and Earth, two military pilots crash in the heat of battle.
One is human, one is Drac. Each is a repulsive alien to the other. Each is a professional warrior, filled with hatred for his blood enemy…
Marooned on a hostile planet, they have a choice. They can complete their missions in a mutual pact of violence and death. Or they can do the most painful thing any Human or Drac has ever done - reach out and begin the new age of understanding that is struggling to beborn…”
Yeahhhh… nope. That’s not even REMOTELY better.
The important thing that I am trying to say here is that this book tries VERY HARD to market itself as your typical cheesy sci-fi war between humans and aliens book. DON’T LISTEN TO IT.
- However, that being said, I have to be perfectly honest with you and say that the first bit does feel a little forced and belligerent. But I have this theory that it was entirely intentional and that it sets the mood of the book at a very human perspective. I like to think of it as the Han Solo or Jayne Cobb(not Mal, he’s too slick) down on his luck feel. It’s dirty and it’s crass and it’s lots of cursing at Chewie as they try to hold their beloved tin can together long enough to hit either atmo or a space dock. Obviously, it’s not a perfect metaphor, but it’s that sort of rough human feeling that serves to nicely accentuate the bits that are shockingly alien. It adds that extra dose of FEELS when Davidge realizes that he can’t make assumptions about ANYTHING when it comes to dealing with Shigan. So, I like to think that the beginning of the book is intentionally rough around the edges. For the extra satisfaction you get later when you realize how smooth they’ve become and how suddenly you’re sobbing uncontrollably into your shitty airplane food. Or maybe that was just me.
- When the book is finally finished with you, STOP. Just, STOP a moment and think about what you just read. Take the first chapter or two. Compare it to the last and have yourself a lovely little WHAT THE ACTUAL FLAPJAGGERING DIPS JUST HAPPENED?! moment. Enemy Mine is absolutely, backbreakingly heavy in its underlying topics of sexuality, religion, politics, LOVE. Jeezuz. I don’t even know where to go with that without having to get in spoilery things. Because I WANT you people to read this. PLEASE?! I need someone else to UNDERSTAND MY FEELS.
- Has anyone else actually read this thing?