I have really high expectations for war novels. Since my first ever war book, Schindler’s Ark, I have steadily become more and more disappointed in the niche.
My theory is that people become sloppy. They do their research about the amazing events, scenery and people that are in involved. They blow everyones minds by how romantic and grandiose everything is. And they forget to actually develop the characters. The authors rely on the environment to create development and don’t justify these changes well enough to the audience. So often people walk around feeling haunted by the camp, the battle or the farm but hardly ever do they remember the characters.
This book, unfortunately, followed the same path.
It is 1943 and an American pilot is shot down above Norway. His plane crash lands into the forest behind Kari’s farm. Despite the danger, she finds the pilot, Lance, and fabricates an identity as a rebellion soldier to travel with him to the border. Their cross country adventure is trailed by her ailing father and by a high ranking Nazi. In an occupied country, they will have to use all of their wits to outsmart their enemies and bring the pilot to safety.
Kari is a strange character. I feel like… she doesn’t really exist. She is just this vacant female that doesn’t seem to have a personality or real thoughts. I’ll explain. She runs off, in the middle of a war, lies about being in an illegal rebellion and has no qualms about spending days alone with a man she has never met before. She has the occasional bought of worry or reflection but on the whole she seems strangely unperturbed by the fact that she could be either raped or shot at any second. My biggest gripe was how few thoughts she spared for her father. Erling, broken hearted about his daughter running away literally mangles himself to try to find her. I get it. I’ve been a teenage girl myself. But let me tell you, no matter how much I loathed my parents (usually for the dumbest reasons in the world, mind you), I never once resented them enough to forget about their safety. See, I can feel more than one emotion at a time which Kari seems incapable of doing. Even when I wanted to spend all night out drinking cask wine, listening to Muse and walking through dark parks, I would have ditched all of that in a second if my parents were injured.
I get it. Lance is a hottie. A super hottie. And that can do things to a teenage girl. I get that she wanted to go on an adventure and look cool in his eyes. But that doesn’t explain how superficial her thoughts seem or how few worries she spares for the father she has condemned at home. Because when an incredibly obvious flume of smoke rises in the air, the Nazi’s find an enemy plane and a nearby girl goes missing with a cart, people start to make accusations.
The sad thing is that this book could have been greatly improved by just the occasional paragraph here and there. If they had really dived into Kari’s wants and feelings, I would have felt a lot more connected with her motives. Instead, I had a perpetual raised eyebrow while reading as I just didn’t understand her ambitions. That is something that a good editor can change, so there is hope yet. But this novel needs a bit more. It’s needs to connect and pull on the heartstrings. If not, I’d rather it wasn’t set in the war. Plenty of pilots have been shot down in history and many would need help to get to civilisation. War doesn’t have to be the only drama or point of development in the novel.
So in the end, this was an okay book. If someone asked me to explain it, I’d talk about the war and about Norway. But honestly, I’m going to forget the characters in about one week.
Note: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.