Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: Among The Red Stars

Among The Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 9/19/17 to 9/23/17
384 pages

World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.

Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

As we all know (and as I repeat myself for the fifth time), I love reading World War II fiction. It is one of my go-to genres (despite current events). Therefore, it’s no surprise that I read and enjoyed Among the Red Stars.

First off, the story very much reminded me of Code Name Verity. There's a heavy focus on planes, including some technical jargon. But I could overlook this as the characters were very well developed. The story starts out with Valka and her cousin, Iskra, both wanting to join the war effort as fighter pilots. But it isn’t until later in the war when they get accepted into female fighter and bomber regiments. This means leaving home and also Pasha, Valka’s childhood friend.

Most of the book details the training that the women do, alongside their peers. I won’t lie and say there isn’t sexism in the book, because of course there is. The male commanding officers look down on the female fighter pilots, and refuse to give them access to better equipment. Little do they know that they work three times as hard as the men do. And these women are badass. They are literally flying planes at night, with low visibility, cutting off their engines to avoid being detected, and risking their lives flying 3 to 4 missions a night.

At the same time, Valka really misses Pasha. Unfortunately, Pasha was recruited to fight at the front lines. I do want to mention that it’s not until he gets into some serious trouble does the plot actually reveal itself. But on the other hand, this focuses much more on the characters themselves rather than an action packed plot.

One of the things I didn’t like about the story is that there were many, many alternating letters between Valka and Pasha. I didn’t mind at first, but over time it really did add up. Nevertheless, the story itself is packed full of emotion. I definitely teared up a bit when I heard about the fates of some of the characters.

Again I really love World War II books, and this wasn't an exception. I'm really glad I got to learn more about the Night Witches, because I hadn’t really heard much about them until this book. I just think that this topic is so cool, and it’s always fun to read about badass female pilots (based on REAL people!) dropping bombs on Nazis, and killing them. So yes, highly recommend this! But just don't expect your faves to get out unscathed.
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