I finished reading this book a few days ago, but needed some time to try and figure out how to express how much I loved this book.
If you are triggered by sexual harassment/assault, please be aware that these are both dealt with in the book.
I really can not begin to describe how much I loved this book. Grant does a great job of portraying so many different aspects of joining the military and going to war – excitement, naivety, struggle, pain – it was all there and was written so well. You can tell that he did a ton of research for this because everything is so well written that you kind of forget that it’s fiction.
Point of view switches between three young women – Rio, Frangie, and Rainy. Something that I absolutely loved was that Grant included a black POV (Frangie) and a Jewish POV (Rainy). I thought it was great that he also explored the intersectionality of how being black or Jewish affected how Frangie and Rainy experienced racism and anti-semitism as well as sexism. Without giving away any spoilers, there is an awesome scene towards the end with Rainy and a German officer which I LOVED. I was a bit worried that Grant would try to paint women as complete equals since they had been given the right to fight in the war, but was very pleased with how he showed the sexism that would have been a problem at the time.
The characters in general were just fantastically written. They were each unique and offered an interesting story and point of view. I liked that all three of them had very different reasons for wanting to enlist. Rio, Frangie, and Rainy are all quite strong – each in her own way – and yet have their weaknesses, making them easy to connect to. Even the characters that weren’t one of the main three were captivating. I felt connected with just about all of them which, for me, is pretty rare.
I have two complaints. First, I wish that we had seen more from Frangie and Rainy. I really enjoyed their chapters, but there seemed to be a lot more of Rio. Second (and this is a small complaint), you can definitely tell that this book is setting up for a series. It is a bit slow at first because it spends quite a bit of time introducing the characters and sort of setting the backdrop for what’s to come.
If you have any interest in YA historical fiction, alternate history, or female-centered books, pick this up! I really highly recommend it. There is so much girl power. I can’t wait for book 2!
I received an ARC of this book from Epic Reads.
Editing to say that due to Michael Grant’s problematic and offensive rants on Twitter (including calling autistic kids a burden and saying that trigger warnings should not be used because they’re spoilers), I no longer recommend supporting him or his books.