Sunday, February 14, 2016

Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Young Adult, Historical
Source: Penguin Random House via NetGalley

It's early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories. Fans of The Book Thief or Helen Dunmore's The Siegewill be totally absorbed.

This inspirational novel is based on a true story from the Second World War. When the German ship the Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk in port in early 1945 it had over 9000 civilian refugees, including children, on board. Nearly all were drowned. Ruta Sepetys, acclaimed author of Between Shades of Grey, brilliantly imagines their story.
Review by Nara

Before reading this book, I have to admit I had no idea what "The Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff" was. Despite it being one of the biggest tragedies of the Second World War and the most devastating single ship sinking in history, with the deaths of over 9,000 people on board, including about 5,000 children, I'm going to say that most people have probably not heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff. I feel like one of the various jobs that authors can do through their writing is to shed light on topics that the reader may not have heard about or thought about. That's why Ruta Sepetys is such a fantastic author- she never fails to do just that.

There are a total of four points of view in Salt to the Sea, and I have to admit, it was a little bit tricky differentiating the three points of view of Florian, Emilia and Joana (Alfred had a pretty distinct voice). Especially because most of the chapters were very short and jumped around frequently between the narrators, making it difficult to keep track of who was who. I think by about half way through the story, I got my bearings a bit more, and was able to be more emotionally invested in the various protagonists' tales. The book was basically completely character driven, as the plot on the whole wasn't particularly exciting- more so one long journey as our characters attempt to escape Germany.

I've read all three of Ruta Sepetys' books that she's published so far, and I'm going to say that Salt to the Sea is my favourite of the three. Definitely recommended.

Overall: 9/10
Plot: 4.5/5
Romance: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4.5/5
Cover: 4/5