Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz

Title: Among the Red Stars
Author: Gwen C. Katz
Genre: Young Adult, Historical
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss

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.
Review by Nara

Among the Red Stars is a tale based on the true story of a group of airwomen active in World War II. Main character Valka is one of the individuals who joins the all female aviation group, and the book looks at the various struggles the group faces from allies as well as from enemies.

I didn't really like that perhaps 40% of the book was told through letters. They were written from either the point of view of Valka, or through Pasha (Valka's childhood friend). I didn't really like the letters written from Valka's point of view, because it felt much smoother to read the normal prose from her. I would have much preferred it if the letters were confined to Pasha's point of view. The letters actually tended to slow the pace of the novel by quite a bit, making it crawl along at times, and there definitely could have been less of them included.

I liked how the story was relatively realistic overall, in that everything didn't always work out for the characters. Although, as it is young adult fiction, it obviously wasn't as brutal in the portrayal of war as it could have been. The story was actually a bit predictable, but somehow I didn't mind that much since the premise in itself was interesting enough.

The characters were quite well developed and likeable in general, but it did feel like the villains and some of the side characters were a bit flat. It almost seemed at times that the villain was 'evil' for no reason.

Overall, an excellent and what seemed to be well researched historical novel. Would definitely recommend it.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5