Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 1499
Breathtaking and important
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz is the WWII feminist book you didn’t know you needed. Inspired by the true story of the Russian Night Witches, Katz takes the reader on an epic, life-changing journey with characters we can emphatically relate to today. From the very first page, I was drawn into this story and could tell it would be a 5-star book by the end of the first chapter.

Among the Red Stars is a tale of strength, aspiration, dreams, love and friendship. It’s the story of Valka as she struggles to prove her worth for the war effort, and it’s a story about Pasha, her best friend, through a series of year-long letters that show you the depravity of war and the hopefulness of growing love.

Even though this story is set during WWII and in a foreign land I couldn’t possibly understand, I found myself connecting deeply with every character in the novel and their circumstances. Read the above quote and tell me you don’t connect to that – I may not be a pilot and I don’t have to disguise myself as a man for my dream job, but I have had to prove myself time and time again simply because I am a woman. I too have had to move heaven and earth to get to where I am today, and it is a testament to Katz’s brilliant writing that women who read this book can see themselves in characters who lived in a different century. We may not have the same struggle as they do, but we understand it.

Valka has easily become one of my favourite YA protagonists and she now holds a position in my prestigious ‘badass ladies’ shelf on Goodreads. She’s ambitious, strong-willed, loyal and fierce. She wants to be the Red Army’s greatest fighter pilot and will stop at nothing to ensure her dream becomes a reality, but as the story develops, Valka comes to understand that war is not as glorious as she thought it would be. Valka’s weakness is her own hubris, but she overcomes it much like she overcomes the rampant sexism of the 1940s (which – surprise, surprise – is very similar to todays!).

I am enacting the ‘Protect-Pasha-2k17-Society’ because this boy is an actual angel and needs to be protected … although Valka is pretty good at doing that already. Pasha is one of the sweetest, gentlest characters I’ve ever come across in YA, and I sorely wish he were a real person so we could be friends. He’s Valka’s best friend, and he never treats her with disrespect due to her gender, unlike many of the other men in the novel. He is a pacifist at heart, and struggles with being conscripted into the Red Army, even as a radio operator. I was also very intrigued by his synesthesia, a condition where sound, letters, shapes, or numbers have a sensory perception, such as smell, colour, or even flavour. When Pasha hears people speak, he visualises colour.

The novel is told through a mix of narration from Valka, an ambitious 18-year-old girl, and of letters between her and Pasha. The letters were by far my favourite parts of the novel as the reader can physically see their friendship developing into so much more as through these letters they are brave enough to say what they can’t in person. But the letters are also significant as they shed light into what was happening at the Front with the war effort, and you learn how deeply unorganised and unprepared Russia was for war and all the poor souls who suffered for it. Katz’s writing is just superb as she vividly describes historical fact, while developing distinct and empathetic characters. At its core, this novel is about hope during the darkest times, and with every that is happening in the world today, I hope many people read it and learn from it.

But what I love most about Among the Red Stars is the fact that there is no girl hate! Yes, I’ve finally found a novel where, although not all the girls are friends, there is no unnecessary girl hate because of a guy or to create drama or just because!! Throughout this novel, I had that fantastic quote by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in my head: ‘We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man … We raise girls to see each other as competitors, not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men.’ In Among the Red Stars, the female pilots are all in healthy competition with one another to prove themselves the best fighter pilot, but they all cheer and encourage each other too. It’s a fantastic representation of positive female relationships and I want more books to feature these friendships too.

Among the Red Stars is one of the best books I have read this year. It’s a riveting, touching story that will stay with readers a long time. Please do yourselves a favour and get your hands on a copy of this book the moment it’s released. You’ll thank me for it. I love the book so much that even though I received a free copy of it, I’ve already preordered a finished copy! If that doesn’t tell you how good this book is, I don’t know what else will.
Good Points
I also had the privilege of interviewing the author.
Check out our interview here: https://thebookcorps.wordpress.com/2017/09/22/arc-review-among-the-red-stars-by-gwen-c-katz/
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Sick Kids in Love
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Isabel has one rule: no dating. It’s easier―...
Pawns (The Wielders of Arantha)
 
5.0 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
Seven hundred years in the future, a powerful alien...
Perfectly Oblivious
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Cameron Bates (Cam) could have almost any girl at...
By Any Means Necessary
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Heart-wrenchingly honest, fans of Brandy Colbert and Nicola Yoon...
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal...
Into the Crooked Place (Into the Crooked Place, #1)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Into the Crooked Place begins a gritty two-book YA...
The Rift
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
As corporate greed is pitted against supernatural forces, two...
The Light at the Bottom of the World (The Light at the Bottom of the World, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In the last days of the twenty-first century, sea creatures...
Conceal, Don't Feel (Twisted Tales, #7)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
What if Anna and Elsa never knew each other? ...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Bestselling Divergent and Carve the Mark author Veronica Roth delivers...
Bernard Pepperlin
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The drowsy Dormouse from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland...
Vicarious
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Paula Stokes weaves together a series of mysteries and the...
The Bookworm Crush
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This spinoff of The Replacement Crush featuring Amy and Toff...
The Unexpected Everything
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Andie must learn to embrace the beauty in chaos in...
What I Like About You
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Can a love triangle have only two people in it?...
The Kinder Poison
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
In the magical kingdom of Orkena, Zahru has long dreamed...

Latest Member Reviews

The F Word (Redefining Me book 1)
 
5.0
"'Dating My Best Friend' (former title: 'The F Word') by Michelle MacQueen and Ann Maree Craven delves deeply into themes..."
Pawns (The Wielders of Arantha)
 
5.0
"Pawns by Patrick Hodges is the first book in the Wielders of Arantha series. Complex and creative don’t begin to..."
The Reader
 
5.0
"I devoured The Reader by M.K. Harkins. There’s no other way to describe it. I read it in one sitting..."
Adaptive
 
4.8
"The story: Lune Avery has survived the Elite Trials and escaped the clutches of her tyrant father,..."
 
4.8
"This darker and grittier sequel of Issaura's Claws, steers readers on a journey outside the kingdom of Elysia into the..."
Winter's Captive
 
5.0
"YA fantasy has always been my favorite. However, the past few months, I'd been in a slump. I struggled getting..."
The Fractured Empire
 
5.0
"I don’t know where to start! The Fractured Empire by Robin D. Mahle is the first in the World Apart..."
Tin Men
 
4.8
"Tin Men by Amalie Jahn The story: After losing his estranged father, Charlie Johnson’s..."
Tin Men
 
4.5
"Would you risk your future to discover your past? What I Loved: The premise of..."
Perfectly You
 
4.3
"What I loved: Ivy's character is strong, driven, and even a bit inconsiderate at times. Giving her character flaws..."
COLD DAY IN THE SUN
 
4.3
"An adorable story that has a lot to say. The story: Holland is the only..."
Lily and the Wedding Date Mistake
 
4.0
"'Lily and the Wedding Date Mistake' by Seven Steps is a story of friendship lost and found between main characters..."
Bea and the Bad Boy
 
4.8
"'Bea and the Bad Boy' by Anna Catherine Field is a page-turning story that evolves from two people who don't..."
Igloo High
 
3.8
"'Igloo High' by Jacinthe Dessureault has many of the typical aspects that young adult novels contain, including a popular girl,..."
Super Powers
 
4.5
"The story: Hot on the heels of the event of Super Humans (Book One), we get inside..."
Perfectly Oblivious
 
4.3
"This was a sweet high school love story centered around basketball and missed intentions. What I liked: ..."
The Kilwade Tragedy
 
5.0
"Before I start this review, I do want to let you all know that this book is trigger heavy. The..."
Colliding Skies
 
4.3
" What I loved: The cover, obviously, is gorgeous and eye catching. Skye's character is a genuine..."
Kismet and Karma
 
5.0
"The other side of the story. The Story: We finally get to see just what happened..."
Fate and Fortune
 
5.0
"Such a cute story. The Story: Paige is heartbroken after her boyfriend of two years..."