I read, I write, and I majored in German and Muggle Studies. my favorite genres are historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. Lookout for reviews of the YA and MG persuasions!
title: The Only Thing to Fear
author: Caroline T. Richmond
genre: speculative fiction / dystopian
published: by Scholastic Books, September 30th 2014
**note: I received a copy of this book via Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for honest feedback.
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summary courtesy of Goodreads:
In a stunning reimagining of history, debut author Caroline Tung Richmond weaves an incredible story of secrets and honor in a world where Hitler won World War II.
It's been nearly 80 years since the Allies lost WWII in a crushing defeat against Hitler's genetically engineered super soldiers. America has been carved up by the victors, and 16-year-old Zara lives a life of oppression in the Eastern America Territories. Under the iron rule of the Nazis, the government strives to maintain a master race, controlling everything from jobs to genetics. Despite her mixed heritage and hopeless social standing, Zara dreams of the free America she's only read about in banned books. A revolution is growing, and a rogue rebel group is plotting a deadly coup. Zara might hold the key to taking down the Führer for good, but it also might be the very thing that destroys her. Because what she has to offer the rebels is something she's spent her entire life hiding, under threat of immediate execution by the Nazis.
In this action-packed, heart-stopping novel of a terrifying reality that could have been, Zara must decide just how far she'll go for freedom.
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This book read fast.
It didn’t really matter that I could see plot points developing chapters away—I still enjoyed reading this book nonetheless. I can partially blame the sheer amount of dystopias that I have read in the last year for that, and lately I’ve felt that it is becoming increasingly hard to find a teen book that doesn’t have a ready handful of easily-identified and familiar tropes at its disposal. But enough of that.
What I really liked about this book was the challenge it presented to its readers. Walk into a Barnes & Noble, and you’ll probably see an “alternate history” shelf somewhere (usually dominated by Harry Turtledove novels, but you get the picture) for adults, and then a teen section dominated by the powerful dystopian players. What about the fact that Hitler’s Germany could technically be classified as a “dystopia?” There was oppression, there was suppression of free thought and speech, brutality, misery, violence—the stuff of the dystopias of the future. I thought (and still think) that Mrs. Richmond had a brilliant idea to bring the speculative history to life.
“What if the Axis had one World War II?” is the sort of question that a history professor might pose to a class that would intrinsically know the answer: the world would be terrible. Probing a little deeper is a great thinking exercise, and it’s great that this book gives the teen audience an outlet for that.
My biggest disappointments were the main character, and the inclusion of the “superpowers.” The unnatural gifts are a twist on the many medical projects carried out by the Nazis, not to mention their ideals and goals, but I found it especially trying to read that the Zara was nearly all-powerful. Her motives were understandable, noble, and brave, but that did not change the fact that her character was just a little too much for me to swallow.
Like I said before, the pace of the book was fantastic, and I enjoyed the read despite the disappointments listed above.
This book would definitely be a great pick for a reader who devoured the Hunger Games and Divergent, or a teen interested in WWII-related fiction.
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