Author: Teri Brown
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Source: egalley received from publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: 2.5 Stars
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***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way changed my opinion of the book. The review below is my open and honest opinion.***
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.
When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters
worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?
I don’t read a lot of it, but I really do love historical fiction. When I read the synopsis for this book and realized it was set during WWI, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I really think that WWI is a forgotten war. Everyone knows about WWII and countless books have been written about it. But when asked about WWI, I feel like most people would draw a complete blank. Even I’ll admit that I don’t remember much about it from what I learned in school. So kudos to this book for taking place during the forgotten war.
That being said, I wish there had been more historical stuff surrounding this book. We get the basics of the war, but nothing more than that. I almost felt at times like I was reading a contemporary because it was missing that aspect that made it feel historical. It didn’t feel dangerous enough to me. The stakes weren’t high enough. There was nothing that drew me in and had me on the edge of my seat. And I think this was partially due to the short length. I think this is the one time I will say that a book should have been longer. Normally I’m saying the opposite. But this book could have benefited from about 100 more pages. Or at least 50.
The plot was just too simple for me. There wasn’t really any mystery or intrigue – which I expected a lot of being a spy novel. I wanted more twists. The twists that were there, while I didn’t exactly guess them, didn’t surprise me either. I just didn’t react much at all. And I thought the explanations were a bit confusing at first and had to go back and reread to figure out exactly what happened. But maybe that’s because I was kind of skimming at that point.
The main character was really flat. There was nothing about her that stood out to me. She was just a girl who was good at cracking codes. She definitely was not a good spy and I’m pretty sure if this were real life she would have been caught on her first day on the job.
Hmm… I rated this book 3 stars when I finished it, but now I’m thinking I’m going to drop my rating after writing this. Because there wasn’t really anything I liked about the book. I didn’t hate it and I got through the whole thing, but there was nothing about this book that made it stand out. A shame with the setting being during a different time period than the usual historical fiction.
Have you read this one yet? What did you think?