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I read this story sometime late during elementary school (perhaps around 2008-2010) and wanted to check it out again.

The book begins by introducing a female lead attending a ceremony or watching one on TV for a war hero who, supposedly, helped attack an enemy city with unmanned drone who they've been fighting for as long as anyone can remember. Some way or another they meet each other and go on adventure.

I can't remember what happens much between the beginning and end, though they infiltrate the main facility of their country at some point and meet an AI intelligence who eventually reveals to them that the war was a farce. It is also revealed that far in the past both countries had developed AI to help them win and the computers quickly realized that nobody could win the war (potentially would end with nuclear holocaust) so they secretly agreed to wage a 'phony war' using footage of the past war as evidence for fighting that was never happening.

In the end, the male lead (the 'war hero' from the beginning) is disheartened by the fact he never did anything, and I believe that people are finally going into the territory that was "no-mans's land" again to meet the other side.

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  • 2
    "We have always been at war with Oceania...."
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 18:49
  • 1
    Getting a PKD feeling about this story
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 20:12
  • Yeah, it does have a lot of resonance with "The Defenders."
    – DavidW
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 21:13

1 Answer 1

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The Always War (2011) by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

”a female lead attending a ceremony or watching one on TV for a war hero”

"When 15-year-old Tessa attends a ceremony to honor her neighbor Gideon, a hero in a 70-year war that has worn down the society she lives in, she has no idea where his refusal of the award will lead them."
~ Source

”Some way or another they meet each other and go on adventure.”

"He and Tessa form an unlikely team, and after flying a black-market airplane into enemy territory, they begin to discover the truth behind the always war. The short chapters with cliff-hanger endings and the action-packed plot make this book an excellent choice for reluctant readers."
~ Source

”the computers quickly realized that nobody could win the war”

"This dystopian drama examines the human aspect of war, and also how technology may redefine war in the future. In line with that tension, it is difficult to pinpoint which character grows the most in the narrative — Tessa or the computer."
~ Source

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