Epic Recs Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog

Posted April 20, 2015 by Lyn Kaye in book review, epic recs, Lyn / 2 Comments

Epic Recs Review: Prisoner of Night and FogPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 22nd, 2014
Genres: historical, young adult
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

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When Pixie recommended this to me, I was highly excited. I already had this on my wish list, and I loved the risk that the author was taking with the concept of this novel – showing the inner life and a sympathetic side to Hitler. This concept is revolutionary, since one of the worst things we can do to a terrible figure in history is strip them of their humanity in an attempt to justify the actions. It is easy for people to dismiss the horrors and the destruction of these infamous figures and chalk it up to someone that was just “evil” or “a monster.” They were people, and they did the things we all do, and loved the things we loved, and had a favorite color and song. We rob society of the lesson that these were humans that did this. The security blanket has to be removed at some point, and we must face the fact that people that commit heinous and horrible crimes are people, and it should never be forgotten that people become corrupt and their actions are dismissed when their humanity is stripped away. Do I forgive Hitler? No, absolutely not. I believe, however, it is vital to study how and why these horrible things happened in our world history.

I have high praise for the writing in the novel. The author didn’t skimp on her homework and she possesses some serious talent. I loved the realism, and I could easily picture and smell the past, and picture it like it was happening today. The author is wonderful regarding showing instead of telling.

The theme of gender expectations, suppression and demands gave the novel an extra punch. There were various heavy themes scattered throughout the book, ranging from a cover up to domestic violence at the hands of a sibling. This book could have easily become a one-trick pony, adding the details to the life of a man who authorized one of the saddest chapters in European history.  Gretchen is faced with various dilemmas in the novel, a caterpillar of a girl trying to break out of her disillusioned cocoon, breaking out of her antiquated ideas and learning how to think for herself, while in the middle or a raging storm.

I have quite a bit of praise for the novel. So why did I stop this book at 130 pages?

This might comes across as ludicrous, since this book takes place on the brink of one of the most horrible genocides of the century, but the death of a beloved pet caused me to stop. I couldn’t go on. It was an important part of the story, but since the author did SO WELL describing the horrors of the death, I couldn’t continue. The strengths of the writing backfired on this one.

I spoke with Pixie and explained my reasons. I feel downright horrible for putting this one down, but I also know what upsets me, what I can’t handle, and what I can’t stomach. Therefore, this one was a DNF for me.

 

lyn

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