Wednesday, 12 June 2019

ABA Short List 2019 - Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen


Finally I'm reviewing the last book shortlisted for the Amazing Book Awards. I managed to finish it just in time to get my votes in. 

I was dragging my heels with this one. Not because it isn't brilliantly written and a well thought out plot, because believe me it is. It was mainly due to being hearing about certain content beforehand, which I normally find uncomfortable reading. I don't think I realised how sensitive a reader I was, until reading this. I don't want to spoil it, because I do think this is a really important book to read. However, it covers a period of time and atrocities, which I have to be in the right frame of mind to read. 

This book is set in 1939 in Germany, at the beginning of World War II. Our main character, Sarah, is a young Jewish girl, trying to escape over the border with her mother. Unfortunately things don't go to plan. Sarah finds herself working with an English spy. She is sent to a Nazi elite boarding school, as a spy and has to live by Nazi rules in order to survive and discover the truth about the development of a nuclear weapon. 

From the first chapter, this book is harrowing. I found I couldn't read too much at a time, as it was so upsetting. Extremely pacy and well written, but guaranteed to upset you. 

As the story moved on and Sarah found a place for herself within the Captain's life, I felt more comfortable continuing. Sarah is one of the strongest characters I've ever come across. She just takes ever bit of pain and manages to use it for her own advantage. I really enjoyed the conversations between Sarah and the Captain, as they were a blend of wit and sarcasm, lightening the situations they found themselves in. I love the idea of a teenage spy during the War and I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens next with both of these characters. 

The story is scattered with German phrasing which I found myself having to look up. I'm hoping that wouldn't put any teenager off from reading it, as it really does add to the feeling of authenticity. 

The ending was a little scarring. Yet again I found myself, having to put it down and read something funny. There are certain situations I just can't read about and this book definitely contained one of them near the end of the book. 

I'm so impressed by how much research has obviously gone into the book to create such an authentic fictional world. There is an excellent section at the back of the book, where the author gives details about the truths behind the fiction. 

I can see why this book has won so many awards though. I think the author has definitely found their place in the historical genre. I think the book leans more towards the older teenage market rather than the younger one and is easily a cross over novel. 

After now reading all five ABA books, I honestly don't think I could tell you who will be in the top three. It will definitely be a close call.  

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