I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies.
Yeah, probably not the best way to start a review of one of the best books I’ve read in 2014 so far.
Yeah, fangirling. It’s going to happen in this review. True this book had some flaws, but overall I was impressed.
This is the sort of book we need more of in YA. Desperately.
All those people who say the genre lacks substance: read this book.
Actually, part of this book reminded me of when I binge read a lot of historical fiction when we were studying World War II way back in junior high-I was a weird kid. But better. Because this book focused on a period of post World War I Germany not looked at often in books and even better she did it from the point of view of a Nazi loyalist.
Which I think adds more layers to the story.
Even though I really wanted to shake Gretchen at the beginning of the book for viewing Hitler as a sweet uncle figure.
Though he comes off as borderline pervy to me before the author revealed what an awful person he is, but whatevs.
I will actually give it to Blankman she actually depicted Hitler in a way that felt realistic. As awful as the man was, as delusional as his rants in that barely readable book of his is, he was viewed as a charismatic figure in post World War I Germany and I think Blankman showed this side of him perfectly and gave it the psycho undertones that it needed.
So bravo on that.
I also like how we gradually see who Hitler truly is as Gretchen develops as a character. As I said, at the beginning of the book I wanted to go all Indiana Jones with a bazooka on her, but she gradually grows some common sense and is actually a character that I can respect.
I liked that she had dreams that included goals besides romance, and that there are impediments in the way of her dreams. I also loved how family played a center role to the story and mental illness. I loved how Blankman depicted the toll of having to be related to someone who is mentally ill. And how Gretchen and her mother relate differently to her brother’s awful behavior.
And God did I hate her brother…
But I loved the symbolism he represented of the outright hatred one usually thinks of when they think of Hitler and the Nazi party. That was well played.
For the most part, this book really worked for me. There were times I did raise an eyebrow, but overall it didn’t happen much.
The one thing I did have a problem with was the romance.
And before you ask, I didn’t hate Daniel.
He seems like a perfectly nice guy. Better than I’d say about 95% of the YA male significant others out there. Especially male historical significant others. But the pacing just seemed off when it came to this romance. I would’ve been more okay if Blankman would’ve let them just developed into friends and left hints for more to come in the sequel. Have Hitler and Gretchen’s Hitler Wannabe brother think what they want, but don’t just rush the romance. I liked the dynamic between Daniel and Gretchen but it was just too soon for them to be declaring that they wuv each other.
But I didn’t read it for the romance. What I read it for was to explore a piece of the past and a place that has left an infamous mark on history. And I think Blankman did a nice job on that.
Overall Rating: I’m giving it a reluctant A really an A-. Romance aside this is a really good one.