Sunday, December 23, 2018

Book Review: Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz

A suspenseful historical YA debut inspired by the true story of an all-female bomber unit in Russia during World War II.

World War II has erupted in Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She’s a pilot—and a good one—so she eagerly joins an all-female bomber regiment.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German targets is something else entirely. The raids are dangerous, but as Valka watches her fellow pilots putting everything on the line in the face of treachery, she learns the true meaning of bravery.

As the war intensifies, though, 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 a famous all-female Russian bomber regiment, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, of learning to fight for yourself, and of the perils of a world at war.

My Review:
When I was offered the chance to review Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz, I jumped at the chance. After reading the great reviews, I knew it was going to be a great book. Luckily, I was not disappointed.

I thought the plot and world building were excellent! The story for Among the Red Stars is mostly told through letters written by Valka, the main character, and her childhood friend, Pasha. Set in Russia during World War II, Pasha was drafted and had no choice but to join, and Valka voluntarily joined because she had been wanting to be a pilot since she was young. The all female bomber regiment isn't taken seriously at first since they are all young and female, but soon enough, it because apparent that these female pilots are the real deal and just as good as their male counterparts. Among the Red Stars is also based in some fact too which made the book that much more interesting. My emotions were all over the place reading this book. I kept on hoping the outcome of the story would be a good one. Among the Red Stars answered all the questions I had, and I would suggest reading the Author's Note at the end of the book because it will give you more insight into the all female Russian bomber regiment. I found it very interesting. The only thing that bothered me was that Valka's parents weren't really mentioned throughout the book. I would have thought that Valka's parents would have written to their daughter during the war. If they didn't want to, it would have been nice to have an explanation as to why they didn't want to write to their daughter. I just found it a bit strange that Valka's parents weren't mentioned at all during the book except for briefly towards the end.

The characters were written very well in Among the Red Stars. It was interesting to learn that many of the characters mentioned in Among the Red Stars were based on actual people who served in World War II. As I've said before, a lot of the story is based on fact which made this book that much more enjoyable. I loved seeing Pasha and Valka grow throughout their letters. I was always hoping they'd be reunited soon because it was obvious how much they really cared about each other. I also loved the relationship between Valka and her cousin Iskra. It was refreshing to read about the love between them. I admired Galya's and Lilya's spirit throughout the war, and I loved how awesome Vera and Tanya were. All the females in Among the Red Stars were amazing, and I admired each and every one of them. I loved the camaraderie between all the girls. I will admit that sometimes it was hard to keep up with who was who during the book due to the Russian names, but I still thoroughly enjoyed every character. If you read the Author's Note at the end of the book, you can learn more about each character that was actually a real person. I loved that Gwen C. Katz added all that information.

The pacing for Among the Red Stars grabs you by the hand and never lets go! Never once did I grow bored of the story. The story never got too fast paced for me where I was confused with what was happening. The pacing was fantastic!

Trigger warnings for Among the Red Stars include violence, death, injuries, war, and sexism.

All in all, Among the Red Stars was a fantastic, thrilling read. I never wanted to put it down. This book had everything from a great group of characters to a fantastic plot. I would definitely recommend Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz to everyone aged 14+. It's such an interesting book as well as an interesting way to learn about a piece of important history.
(A special thank you to the author for providing me with a paperback of Among the Red Stars in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.)
About the Author:
Gwen C. Katz is a writer, artist, game designer, and retired mad scientist easily identified by her crew cut and ability to cause trouble. Originally from Seattle, she now lives in Pasadena, CA with her husband and a revolving door of transient mammals.

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