Thank you to Christopher Clancy and Montag Press for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
All quotes are taken from We Take Care of Our Own by Christopher Clancy.
//CW: mature content, death, alcohol, violence (guns), mentions of abortion, self-harm, war, suicide, animal cruelty, abuse//
// Quick Statistics //
Overall: 5/5 Stars
Plot: 5/5 Stars
Setting: 5/5 Stars
Characters: 5/5 Stars
Writing: 5/5 Stars
Memorability: 5/5 Stars
// Quick Review //
We Take Care of Our Own is better defined as an experience rather than a novel. Echoing our world in darker ways, the novel not only intrigues but also warns of the dangers of greed, war, and apathy. Clancy has crafted a marvelous novel that beckons those searching for a story that will keep them up all night.
“Sometimes I think, when people see me, look me in the face, they know. They know what I’ve done. Because it comes from inside. I’m rotten in there.”
// Other Information //
Publisher: Montag Press
Page Count: 420 pages
Release Date: April 22, 2021
Genre: Fiction, Dystopian, Political, Psychological, Thriller
// Book Description (via Amazon) //
As internal division threatens the United States’ ability to defend itself, USoFA WorldWide—a “supraconglomerate” of the nation’s largest military, energy, and media providers—has stepped in to conduct a more efficient, more profitable War on Terror.
In its effort to silence growing popular dissent, USoFA WorldWide launches SoldierWell, an experimental therapy that aims to co-opt the violent impulses of traumatized veterans to incite Intentional Mass Casualty Incidents, otherwise known as mass shootings.
Combining “found” psychotherapy session transcripts with exacting prose, WE TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN tracks the progress of third-year medical student Linda Held’s struggle to suppress her conscience and fulfill Company orders to their savage, terrifying end.
// Characters //
We Take Care of Our Own brags a wide array of characters, all involved one way or another in the risky experiment known as SoldierWell, sponsored by United Syndicates of Federal Assistance Worldwide (USoFA.) Most, I have to say, are horrible people, but there are a few that I just wanted to give a hug. Among the most important characters are Carl Boxer, Todd Sparrow, Linda Held, Miles Young, and Chelsea Daye.
Both Carl Boxer and Todd Sparrow are selected to be ‘patients’ of Linda Held for the SoldierWell program (more on that later). I’m mainly going to focus on Carl, but it’s worth mentioning that Todd literally checks off all the boxes on a stereotypical serial killer. Carl, however, is an absolute sweetheart who actually feels guilt for the things he has done and/or experienced. While not perfect, Carl actually attempts to use Linda’s services in order to get better. Unfortunately, SoldierWell is truly against him.
I have mixed feelings about Linda Held. When she is offered a position in SolderWell, she accepts for the benefit of her son and mother, Danny and Vera. So, how she treats Carl is somewhat out of her control (I guess). If she doesn’t comply with the treatment she must give Carl, then Danny’s CF treatments will cease to exist. I still don’t like her that much. But still, the situation she was forced into was not good for anyone besides Miles Young and USoFA.
Speaking of Miles Young, I despise him. That’s all I have to say about him. And now onto…
Miles Young, also known as Dr. Young, is a complete asshole. Apathetic, selfish, greedy, and manipulative are words I would use to describe Young. The USoFA as a whole is manipulative towards their employees, holding things over their heads so that they have to complete horrific and evil tasks. Miles is just another tool the USoFA uses to influence those working in the SoldierWell program, including Linda.
Chelsea Daye is actually not seen much in the novel, however she has a huge influence in the events of the novel. Formerly an actress, her brother’s death in service caused her to become a loud-spoken activist against the war the USoFA is claiming to make better. Her activism is a beacon of hope for Haters, or those that opposed USoFA and the war.
“This program marks the first step toward the ultimate maintenance of law and order. A populace that polices itself, that finds its own threats and expels them, on its own.”
// Writing and Setting //
Clancy’s writing style is unique. The use of transcripts to carry along the story was an interesting feature that helped to convey the separation between the USoFA and other characters.
We Take Care of Our Own features a cold, dystopian world in which those in power could care less about those beneath them. It seems that war and violence (particularly gun violence) is very common. War seems to be a business that the USoFA has monopolized.
“…that’s what we’re defending. Not just the freedom to live without terror, but to live in a world where we don’t even have to know about it.”
// Plot //
The novel starts out innocently enough. Carl and Todd are both to undergo therapy for their PTSD and Linda is the one providing it via the SoldierWell program. However, as demands from the USoFA increase and Miles begins to breathe more frequently down Linda’s neck, Linda is forced to manipulate her patients into committing a horrendous crime for the sake of the company.
The prospect that the therapists we trust to help us better ourselves could be somewhat of a double agent and actually against us is not just scary, but in this novel, fascinating.
“…it felt like everything was just leading to this. It felt like I’d been avoiding it my whole life and I couldn’t avoid it any longer. There’s nothing for me out there.”
// Overall Review //
We Take Care of Our Own is a future classic that I’m sure future students will have to read for its poetic and meaningful messages. A true masterpiece, Clancy has written a fantastically original and riveting novel that leaves the reader wanting more.