Thursday, April 17, 2014

Prisoner of Night and Fog~ Blog Tour

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1)

by Anne Blankman

416 pages

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Release Date: April 22nd 2014


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.

There are some important things you should know before reading this review.
First of all, Prisoner of Night and Fog was my most highly anticipated release in 2014, which I think we can all say really means something in the world of book blogging.
Second of all, I had doubts that the author could live up to my expectations that I have found in other books set in this time period. Most notably, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.
And finally going into this novel I was in a major reading slump. (Major as in, in the past few weeks I read next to nothing!)
Somehow Prisoner of Night and Fog managed to surpass my expectations and become one of my favorite books of the year as well as one of my all time favorite books set in the pre to post World War Two era.
It is a tale of romance and adventure and of hope in a dark time and it is one that I won't be forgetting any time soon.

Going in I didn't realize that the book was set prior to the outbreak of WW2 when Hitler was still gaining power. And truthfully I was sort of glad about that. I thought that I might not like the main character if she could be so oblivious and ignore the mass slaughtering of Jews. What was happening was bad enough and from the first page I could tell that I was going to like Gretchen.
Within the first few pages I love how the author showed Gretchen as someone who wouldn't just take what was happening because she was scared. Gretchen stood up to her brother, even though she knew that he would hate it and that small act of rebellion is where I first really began to look forward to her character growth.
Another important aspect of the novel was the romance. (I mean duh, there is always a romance) And as much as I hate saying it, the romance was one of my favorite parts of the book. The author did a great job in making sure that the romance aided with other aspects of the book. It wasn't just a romance thrown in because, hey all other YA has it. The romance aided in Gretchen's character growth and gave the reader an idea of exactly how much she had changed from nearly the first page to the last. 
The romance was also just kind of perfect and personally I enjoyed it. Normally I really do hate it when the romance it my favorite part of the book, I mean, there are so many other things that should shine through besides the romance. But here I felt like it was extremely well done and perfectly incorporated into the story. It made me laugh and smile and just grin like an idiot and I loved that.

I also liked the "mystery" of the book. I mean it's obvious to the reader what happened. Not the specifics but the general idea of who killed Gretchen's father, but watching Gretchen come to the same realization definitely made me sympathize and better understand her situation. I loved the incorporation of the history into that mystery that made it all the more realistic.

That's another of the amazing aspects about the book. The history. This was clearly not a story that the author just threw together using the basic facts. It was carefully researched and yet the author still put her own twists and turns into the book. Learning about Hitler and his life beyond the evil figure we now see today added a complexity to the story. It showed that there are different views on the same person.
Another reason I loved the story was the fact that the author also examined Hitler's followers and Hitler's personality. Looking back we all question, How could this have happened? Why did everyone go along with it? Why couldn't he be stopped? Within the book several different types of his followers are analyzed. Some may be scared, and some show the same charismatic traits Hitlers showed. I think the author choosing to take that route and her effort to show the reader why Hitler had the following he did, only made me love the book even more. 

One of the other biggest things in the book for me was the writing style and POV. If you know me at all, you might know that I'm not a big fan of third person POV. For some reason, that POV feels almost forced to me instead of it flowing easily. SO when I flipped to the first page I was slightly hesitant. Thankfully though, the author's beautiful writing style and easy voice made me fall right into the story with absolutely no problems. 

And finally I would like to end my review with this:
"Just because I'm Jewish doesn't mean I'm rich."
Throughout the book there were little parts that made me smile. When I came to this point in the story I was already deeply in love with all the characters and I immediately began to laugh at this. This may seem like some small inconsequential part, and truthfully it is. But the other day in my chem class, a student got in a massive argument with my teacher about the fact that clearly all Jewish people were rich. Coming upon this part made me laugh just because it really showed how well thought out the entire book was. There were several moment where I saw things that other readers wouldn't have and I think that really shows a lot about the author and how she managed to interweave so many different things into the book that then allowed each reader to come out with a different, and perhaps more personal experience with her book.
There is a lot more I could say about Prisoner of Night and Fog. I could say it's gorgeous. It's beautiful. It's thought provoking. It's amazing. But at this point I am convinced you should find out for yourself. The author manages to take one of the most hated people the world has ever known and turn him into a figure that you could meet on the street. She made something so impossible seem possible. And in this time of mayhem she managed to write a beautiful story of a girl realizing who she is and what her values are. Gretchen is a character that will stick with me for a long time. I am eagerly anticipating the next book in the series and I can't wait to see what else the author does! 
One last thing I have to say about the book. As amazing as it is, it has made me want to curl up in a ball in bed and stick to my introverted ways. I mean who knows what people are really like beneath the surface.
Easily five stars. A book I shall read over and over again and recommend to as many people as possible.

"I'm in awed envy of the daring with which Anne Blankman plunges into her difficult and sensitive subject matter. To read Prisoner of Night and Fog is to be immersed in a breathtaking evocation of Munich in the 1930s, where life is ordinary and skin-crawling by turns, and in the painful, hopeful story of one young girl's awakening conscience. It’s terrifying and incredible to think how much of this story is true."
-- Elizabeth Wein, award-winning author of Code Name Verity
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Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn't writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.

After earning a master's degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she's not writing young adult fiction, she's playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.

Anne Blankman is the author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, the first in a three-book deal slated for publication in spring 2014 from Balzer + Bray | HarperCollins. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

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My Question of the day: What is one thing from this time period and setting you wouldn't mind experiencing? (Like the jazz clubs....)

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