I had seen the film years ago and really enjoyed it, and although I've had the book on my shelf for years, it's only now that I got round to reading it.
The boy in the story is a representation of Ballard himself-it is almost an autobiography while reading like a great war story.
Reading this book it was easy for me to see how these experiences as a young boy would inform the author's later dystopian novels that would make him famous. The dank and dreary paddy fields of war torn China are somewhat similar to the rampant boggy jungles of England in his 'The Drowned World' from the 60s.
In both stories groups of people are struggling to survive in a changed world.