Never Give Up: A Man’s Fight to Heal His PTSD
Middle River Press (2020)
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (07/2021)
“Never Give Up: A Man’s Fight to Heal His PTSD” is the third book in The Demons of War Trilogy by Y.M. Masson. In the first book we saw Alain as a child surviving his way through Nazi-occupied Paris, and as a young man we saw Alain commanding his soldiers in the French-Algerian War. At the start of “Never Give Up” Alain has been doing his best to adjust to civilian life for the past 25 years. His stint in the military may have been short-lived, but the horrors he faced during his campaign as a lieutenant have left him irreparably scarred. Still fighting every day to keep his PTSD at bay, and sometimes losing the battle to his demons and suffering outbursts of hateful rage, he thankfully is thrown together with Cathy on a business trip. After Alain single-handedly stops a terrorist from hijacking their plane, he and Cathy start getting to know each other and bond deeply, quickly falling in love. Soon enough, they are traveling together to Mt. Everest so that they can conquer Alain’s demons together, once and for all, in the mountain wilderness Alain feels most at home in.
I think what I liked most about “Never Give Up” was how Masson used Alain and Cathy’s expeditions as metaphors for Alain, learning how to fight and conquer the demons inside his mind. PTSD is a monster of its own, and Mt. Everest is, of course, the monster of all mountains. A lot of readers will identify with how he used a physical, natural outlet to try and quell the metaphysical feelings and thoughts that had been plaguing him since his time as a soldier.
“Never Give Up” did feel like it moved a little slower than the prior two books, and it took me a little longer to really find a rhythm within the story. There were also points where the dialogue felt a little unnatural or two-dimensional, but for the most part Masson’s writing was consistent with that of the first two books. I do almost think that the slower pace may have also been intentional. In the first two books Alain is dealing with war, both as a child and an active agent in the military. This book is not about war, except for his PTSD. There are no rebels or German bombers. He is not watching more of his platoon members be killed or innocent villagers mutilated. His life literally has slowed down after leaving the military, and that probably does not help soldiers who are dealing with PTSD, because the change of pace is so drastic.
Overall, I enjoyed all three of Y.M. Masson’s books, and would recommend them to readers who enjoy literary fiction mixed with a touch of action and history.