NO SURRENDER SOLDIER is a historical fiction set in 1972 and echoes the real life story about a Japanese soldier on Guam that went into hiding instead of being captured by American soldiers at the end of World War II. Especially with the choice to use Chamorro words (language/culture native to Guam), the story feels authentic. It also addresses the racial tension post-war between the natives on the island, the Japanese who used to own it, and the American who control Guam now.
Despite it being 208 pages, I finished NO SURRENDER SOLDIER in the time it takes me to read a novella. In fact, my main complaint about this book is the length. When the last page was finished, I wasn’t yet ready to let go of the characters. I have so many questions about Kiko and his family’s future. I wanted another 200 pages. The only thing that will slow your devouring of NO SURRENDER SOLDIER is the non-English words scattered in its pages. Fortunately, these words are easily deciphered through the context of the sentences.
It’s refreshing to have only male POVs in a YA book. There is a scene that involves the slaughter of an animal for food, but it’s done with enough humor that most readers won’t get squeamish. I especially enjoyed the evolving relationship between Kiko and his tatan (grandfather). The romance in the book is secondary to the problems Kiko faces and minor enough that hardcore romance fans might feel disappointed.
NO SURRENDER SOLDIER weaves together the stories of Kiko transitioning into a man with Seto’s desperate struggle to survive without shaming his family. Anyone interested in a well-written historical fiction that focuses more on the people than the romance should read this book.