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The God of War

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  881 ratings  ·  169 reviews
In a scruffy desert town in 1978, twelve-year-old Ares Ramirez lives in a trailer with his mother and younger brother. In this desolate, forgotten place, government fighter planes and helicopters make training runs by night using live ammunition. When an anonymous dead body floats in from the sea, Ares, on the cusp of his adolescence, is inspired to enact elaborate fantasi ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 29th 2008 by Simon & Schuster (first published April 14th 2008)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  881 ratings  ·  169 reviews

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Feb 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, audio, read-in-2012
This book is a very descriptive, unhurried meditation on the weight of history and guilt. Which is something that I think about quite a lot. I think about my Mom, who was raised in a rigid, military home and resented it so much that as a parent she was afraid to say no to anything, ever. I think about my Dad, who was raised with an absentee father, and eventually became one himself. I think about all the illogical things that I do in direct reaction to the way I was raised. My mom has and always ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another sad but wonderful story. I recommend this one for sure!
Paul Pessolano
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
“The God of War” by Marisa Silver, published by Simon & Schuster.

Category – Fiction/Literature Publication Date – April, 2008.

Ares Ramirez is 12 years old and has been named after Ares, the God of War. He lives with his mother and brother in a secluded and poverty stricken area of the desert. This is a story of his coming of age in very difficult circumstances. Ares has seen men come into and out of the life of his mother, with only one spending any kind of time with them as a family. His mother
Feb 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Roxanne by: my mother
This was an excellent book and I never want to read it again.
Nov 19, 2010 rated it really liked it

Marisa Silver's second novel made a huge emotional impact on me. I was alternately enthralled and annoyed but by the end I could not recall what had annoyed me. Laurel is a single mom raising two sons in a cramped trailer on the Salton Sea in the late 1970s. The story is told by her older son, twleve-year-old Ares, who chooses to play the god of war in the family.

Ares is tortured by the conviction that because he dropped his younger brother on his head when Malcolm was a baby, he is responsibl
Jul 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing

Okay first off, I can't hold back any longer: I LOVED this book!!! I was not sure I would, when I looked at the cover and read the title but, "don't judge a book by its cover"---trust me on this one, and the story is not about war either.

The God of War, by Marisa Silver is actually a coming of age story. It is one of those rare gems that I did not want to put down once I started it, and, when I turned the final page (just 271), I had wished it was longer.

The story takes place in 1978, and is nar
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was attracted to this book because I thought I would relate to it. First, it takes place by the Salton Sea--the desolation of the area fascinates me. Second, it takes place in the 70s, "my" era. Finally, it is a story of a single mother raising two boys while working.
Marisa Silver delivered a short novel that grabbed me, entertained me and provided some insight into my own life. Can't ask for more. I do hope I was a better mother than this one.
Karen Germain
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
On the plus side, the characters seem reasonably well developed. No one is evil, everyone is trying to do good and failing. The narrator's adolescent rebellion was relatable, all that stuff, even if it's impossible to believe that the speaker is male. The big problem is the sentences. Some examples:

"I felt betrayed, not by them but by my younger self who had naively accepted everything and had not looked beyond the near horizon of my life to see how insignificant I was."

“I was suffused with a l
Dillwynia Peter
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Being a contemporary US writer, I was a little apprehensive to start with (after my foray with Conroy), but the apprehension quickly disappeared.

The story & characters are believable, particularly the guilt of Ares and how he processes and atones for it. The narrative moves at a quick but acceptable pace and I found I didn't want to do other things, but rather settle in a decent chair & light & watch the play of circumstances. My only small niggle - & it is small - is I felt the last few chapter
Jill Sorenson
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Gorgeously written, heartbreaking, hopeful and sad at the same time. This is a story about a 12 year old boy growing up near the Salton Sea in the 70s. Ares deals with feelings of guilt over his brother's accident, and frustration with 6 year-old Malcolm's disabilities. He also rages against his irresponsible mother, who leaves the bulk of Malcolm's care to Ares. Although Areas is a good brother, gentle with Malcolm, he wants to rebel and lash out and escape.

The writing draws attention to itsel
Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Setting: 1978 Southern CA. . Bombay Beach, on the shores of the Salton Sea (about 85 mies south of San Diego).
Sound romantic? Picturesque? Not. This is a forgotten place populated by lonely, wounded, barely making-it people.
Narrated by 12-year-old fatherless Ares Ramirez, who lives with his trying-hard but bedraggled mother and a disabled, two-year-old younger brother, Malcolm.
Another going-of age-story. Yes. Worth your time? Definitely. Silver really nails adolescent anger and confusion, singl
Apr 07, 2010 rated it liked it
I was really enjoying this book until the last chapter. I would have given the book four stars but the last chapter did not flow or seem to fit the rest of the book. The ending is so critical to me. More so than the first few pages. With that, I would suggest this book as a good read, but would always want to know how the reader felt about the ending.
Very fast read. Loved everyone in the book. Especially Richard and Mrs. Poole. I would love to see this made into a movie, which is saying a lot fr
May 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-americans
There are so many feelings that exist and grow because you are part of a family. Some like guilt, responsability, love, etc, so many, and so contrasting and intense.
This book is beautiful in that it tells you a story about a very particular family, but it reminded me at least, of what it is to find yourself a part of a group of people who happen to be your family.
Sometimes you can't stand them, and sometimes you just want to be with them for no other reason than being with them, even if it doe
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Molly by: a colleague
Shelves: alreadyread
I really loved this book. It was a nice, tight story, succinctly told and heartbreaking. I love realistic fiction and this one fit the bill. Great book about family dynamics, adolescence and loneliness.
Zak Cebulski
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-completed
I was apprehensive about this book. I bought this book at a library book sale for 50 cents. After which I put it on my bookshelf where it sat for almost a whole year. Finally I picked it up to read after noticing that I have far too many unread books. I am glad that I got around to this book, it surpassed all of my expectations.

The story. As in all of my other reviews, or most of them at least, I will start off with the story. It takes place in 1978, and follows a 12 year old boy called ares. He
May 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
The Wasteland: Marisa Silver's novel The God of War

On the face of things, Ares Ramirez, the 12-year-old at the broken heart of Marisa Silver’s elegiac new novel, The God of War, is working through a normal adolescence. His body is changing, his soul is torn between belonging and rebellion and he doesn’t know whether to love or hate his single mother, Laurel, with whom he lives in a run-down trailer in the Southern California desert bounded by Mexico and San Diego. But for a boy his
Aug 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Amy by: Peter Lowenthal
Given to me by my cousin, who said, "I defy you to read three pages of this and not want to read more." He was right. I read three pages and wanted more.

I actually did like this book a good deal, though I had many questions in my mind while reading it and still at the end, that were never answered. I was worried that it would be a Cathcher in the Rye teenage angst type novel, but unfolded in quite a different manner. The starkness of the Salton Sea fascinated me. I'd never heard of that particul
Feb 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, trip-west
I was attracted to this novel by the setting, having recently visited California’s Salton Sea on a road trip west. While I generally flee from stories of adolescent boys or any that might be sporting a “coming-of-age” theme, I was so captivated by the location that I felt compelled to give this one a try. After discovering the Salton Sea herself, Marisa Silver was apparently drawn to write about it in a similar way, and I feel that she beautifully captures the stark beauty of sea itself along wi ...more
Aug 06, 2010 rated it liked it
I really liked this book! After hearing about how dark it is from several of my book group members who had already read it, I thought I wasn't going to like it, but I really did. The writing is exquisite, which I had heard prior to reading it. I found the characters entirely realistic and felt their feelings and actions were believable given the circumstances. I was struck by how real the story seemed, and at times felt I was reading non-fiction. This book is the book that was selected by the Cl ...more
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The reader follows the story of a boy as he deals with the responsibilities of rearing his younger, impaired brother while going through the stages of adolescence, in a poor, rural community in Southern California.

The boy deals with teenage struggles that are universal enough that this reader could identify with him, and unique enough that the story is new and fresh. I found the main character likable and his relationship with his brother believable and endearing. The author paints the brother i
Aug 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. While it did not make it as a 5-star (not everything can) it was very close. This novel provides a really wonderful look into the mind of an adolescent who suffers a myriad of ways as he attempts to come to grips with his past that haunts him, his mentally disabled brother, his family, his environment and finally death. It is wonderfully written in first person by Marisa Silver who delivers a story that kept me turning the pages throughout the night.

With the exception of an e
Jul 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a very "real" book because of the author's sensitivity to her characters and their lives. She does not judge them, but while she presents them as flawed she shows sympathy for them and their idiosycricies. It is an excellent book on several levels.
This family, living on the edge of the Salton Sea as well as on the edge of society struggles with familiar family issues. Ares, our god of war, struggles to find his own way while bearing major responsiblity for his younger brother who is disa
Bookmarks Magazine

Most critics were drawn in by this sad and lovely tale of a lonely boy weighed down by burdens even an adult would find difficult to bear. Silver's characters are carefully rendered and sympathetic, her prose is compulsively readable, and her portrayal of Malcolm's autism is accurate and meaningful. As a narrator looking back 30 years, Ares is clever and perceptive; however, to the dismay of critics, the mature adult's voice spills over too often into the boy's thoughts and insights. Silver also

Kim Fay
Jul 03, 2010 rated it liked it
I read this novel because I have long had a fascination with the Salton Sea, and I was hoping it would give me a feeling for the haphazard communities that have developed around this "accidental" sea. I did not expect any kind of history lesson; what I was hoping for was a mood. But the book, though well done, left me feeling flat. Who knows? Maybe that is what life around the sea does to the people who live there, and in that, the book succeeds. But I felt that I was missing something ... I wan ...more
Heather Stewart
This book immediately grabbed my attention. It starts with a hidden gun and a 12 year old boy protecting his severely autistic little brother. I was expecting it to go on with a trial and the aftermath. Instead it told about their life before the incident and the older brother's life with a autistic brother. This isn't nothing bad, I just thought it would be more interesting to hear what happened after. It does come back to the gun and major incident, but not until the last disc and in a brief m ...more
Abhilash Mangu
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The God of War labels a fiction story of a teenager growing up and learning to separate from his family, a story that actually comes out quite tame with no large climaxes or huge moments where the tension is extremely high. The book mainly focuses on character interactions, which is what I am usually attracted to books for, so I found this book really nice to just sift through dialogue and see the voice of each different character.

This books also provides a perspective of living with a single mo
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Miera
I don't often read fiction with a contemporary setting (though, I suppose 1978 isn't exactly "contemporary"). The mother in this book was loving, but largely absent, leaving her 12 year old son to car for his mentally handicapped brother. Though the book was brutally realistic and made for a tense read, it was so compelling I finished it in two days. Makes me realize that reality is beautiful in it's flawed and limping form. ...more
Veronica IRWIN
Dec 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love the way Silver wrote this book!! The story of two brothers growing up near the Salton Sea in California with a "hippie" for a mother (the best way I can describe her), the oldest yearning for independence, feeling guilt and taking on the weight of his small world at a young age. The youngest fascinated with birds and living inside his own head.
It's a quick and heartfelt read in so many ways.
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Marisa Silver is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel, Mary Coin (published by Blue Rider Press, March 7th, 2013).

Marisa Silver directed her first film, Old Enough, while she studied at Harvard University. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1984, when Silver was 23. Silver went on to direct three more feature films, Permanent Record (1988), with Keanu Reeves, Vital

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