Front Lines by Michael Grant
Published by Katherine Tegen on January 26, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Pages: 576 – hardcover & ebook, 250 – paperback
Format Read: eARC
Rating: 5 stars
Source: HarperCollins International
Perfect for fans of The Book Thief and Code Name Verity, New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant unleashes an epic, genre-bending, and transformative new series that reimagines World War II with girl soldiers fighting on the front lines.
World War II, 1942. A court decision makes women subject to the draft and eligible for service. The unproven American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.
Three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering: Rio fights to honor her sister; Frangie needs money for her family; Rainy wants to kill Germans. For the first time they leave behind their homes and families—to go to war.
These three daring young women will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, they will discover the roles that define them on the front lines. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.
My body is damaged, my mind is too full, my soul too raw.
Oh my god, you guys. This book shook me up so much. I can’t even express how much it impressed me. Let’s just say I read this book while studying for exams & going through a tough time so I always looked forward to bedtime just to continue reading it. It’s a beautiful masterpiece — a beautiful, raw, moving masterpiece. The only other series I’ve read by Michael Grant was the Gone series when I was 13 years old. Of course, I loved it at that age but Front Lines is definitely a far cry from Gone. It’s a grisly, alternate-history retelling of World War II in which American women become eligible to fight on the front lines. There are so many things addressed in this book and the diverse cast of characters was pretty impressive. I can’t recommend this enough — I don’t even know what to say in this review, to be honest.
Firstly, as always, I’m going to start with the characters. They’re the type of characters that’ll stick with you – dimensional and diverse. The story was written in the multiple POVs of these characters. I liked all of them equally which usually doesn’t happen in books like this because I tend to prefer one over the other. They all had something unique about them but still somehow managed to remain real throughout the book.
“Aimless, naive Rio and sexy Jenou; Smart, determined Rainy and gentle, conflicted Frangie.”
I also loved how we were able to see how the characters’ developed in this dark world they were thrust into. What makes this book so moving is the fact that whatever these characters went through is real. In World War II, hundreds of thousands of young soldiers were recruited and slapped into a uniform and thrust into the war with guns too big for them and dreams too small. That and many other elements typically found in traditional war stories are what make this such sad read.
We understood nothing, you see. We thought we were soldiers, but we were still civilians dressed in khaki and OD. None of us had yet felt the fear so overpowering that you shake all the way down to your bones and your bladder empties into your pants and you can’t speak for the chattering of your teeth. None of us had yet seen the red pulsating insides of another human being.
The fact that this book deals with many societal issues, mainly social injustice, is also a reminder of how it was practically the core of the Second World War. The racism against blacks and injustice towards females… These are all also mirrored in today’s society, proving the gritty realism of this book. Being a black female, it really resonated with me and Frangie’s character was the closest one to hit home. However, she wasn’t the only one affected. Rio was a white female from a small town in California and Rainy was a Jewish female from New York City, yet they were still touched by the injustice in some way.
“PFC Schulterman, your scores are . . . acceptable. This does not alter my opinion that your proper role is at home working in a defense industry and raising children.”
All in all, I’m giving this book a 5 because the characterization was very detailed, really helping to immerse the reader into the gritty, dark world. Michael Grant definitely specializes in connecting readers to characters excellently. This was a very sad but unique read and I honestly just feel like I haven’t done the book enough justice in this review. All I could say is this: just.read.it.
Many thanks to HarperCollins for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views.