Genre: YA historical fiction
Publication date: April 22nd, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
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.Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.
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.
Prisoner of Night and Fog was a very well researched and written historical fiction novel set in Nazi Germany—one of the time periods and settings that I find the most fascinating to read about. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was different from most other World War II/Holocaust books that I've read in the past. It was actually set in the early 1930s, which was before either of those events took place. Instead, the story was set right before Hitler even became president of Germany and featured him and other real-life people as characters, so the book proved to be quite a new experience for me.
THE WRITING, RESEARCH, AND THEMES
One of my first impressions of this book was that it felt like a good book. I didn't have any issues with it. It felt really well done, which is a big reason why I enjoyed reading the book.
The research was also a big reason why this book went well for me. I love a good historical fiction, and this one had a lot of basis in truth. It was apparent that the author knew her subject, and I really liked how she dealt with the facts and created a fictional story based on real events and real people. It was also nice that she didn't focus on something that most authors focus on—a German girl who was close enough to Hitler to call him "Uncle Dolf" but discovers the truth about him and his intentions as she looks into her father's murder. The different idea and the research behind it made the book so refreshing and new.
As for the themes, I found a few that I loved! Ultimately, though, the book was about finding truth that had previously been unclear or hidden under (because I want to use the title) "night and fog." It was also about how finding that truth can change everything. That was the biggest point I saw put across.
I loved the characters! Gretchen was a great heroine. I really liked how determined she was and she wouldn't just let people walk all over her. Daniel stood out less to me, but he was still a good match for Gretchen. They're relationship was definitely forbidden (one I tend to enjoy the most), and I liked how he helped her find the truth about her father's murder and about Hitler. Reinhard was despicable, but he stood out. He kept a lot of things interesting, but also made me worried about Gretchen and Daniel quite a bit. As for Hitler . . . the author did really well with him. His character was probably the most developed out of all of them, which was most likely due to the fact that he was a real person.
Other than those four, most of the other characters just blurred together for me. No one side character stood out very much, except in certain moments. But that wasn't that big of a negative—it was just something that I noticed while reading.
The story itself was the weakest area of the book for me. The rest of the book felt really, really good, but the story line and events moved a bit slow. I wasn't fully invested in all the things that were happening, like the search for the truth behind Gretchen's father's murder. Maybe that was because I made a guess early on about who the murderer was, so the mystery of it was lost on me. Maybe it was the bit of politics involved that made me feel slightly bored. I'm not sure. There were quite a few events that made me cry a little, glare at the characters, or feel terribly anxious, but as for the story in its entirety wasn't for me.
While the progress of the story itself didn't make the book outstanding, the rest of it—the characters, setting, writing, themes, and research—made reading Prisoner of Night and Fog well worthwhile for me. It was definitely a well done book, and I highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and those looking for something new and different to read.
My questions for you:
Do you like reading books set in or around the time of Nazi Germany?
Which cover do you prefer? The one above or the one below?