The majority of this novel is set in Vietnam: in the jungles, in Saigon, and in small, outlying villages. Much of the rest is set in the Philippines and parts of southeastern Asia, but there are also short visits to U.S. cities—Phoenix and Minneapolis in particular.
Whether or not a war zone, each setting is harsh, hostile, and challenging. Either it is too hot or too humid or too filled with insects and filth. Characters also cannot escape the feeling of foreignness—the feeling that they are somewhere they do not belong. There is never a sense of trust or ease, even when characters return to their homes. The environment is always threatening to them in some way, either physically or psychologically.