Front Lines by Michael Grant

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Front Lines by Michael Grant

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Erin Hull
Reviewed by Erin Hull
Summary: This book is packed with interesting and dynamic characters. It tells of the hardship of war for three young women who have been allowed into the military. Their struggles have been well written and accurately portrayed in a story full of tension and danger.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: January 2016
Publisher: Electric Monkey
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1405273824

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1942: Hitler is pushing his way ever further, the USA adds its strength to the Alliance and women are allowed to fight in the military for the first time. Rio Richlin’s sister has already died in the war, Frangie Marr is desperate for a way to keep her family’s heads above water and Rainy Schulterman wants to kill the man who is murdering Jews. All three go to war and all three are changed. Although they do they do not start together, their paths intersect as they all take on roles that leave more scars than expected.

I admire Grant’s decision to focus on this topic in his novel. He's created a broad cast of characters and given a realistic view of the prejudices they would have faced. While strong and determined, the girls did not fall into the trap of the invincible, emotionally devoid girl that authors often create when trying to establish strong female characters. These girls feel the war and the killing like real people would. While they are determined and courageous they are also afraid and vulnerable at times. They all have their own skills that show the range of talents young women can have. While Rio is a dead-shot soldier, Frangie is an excellent medic and Rainy is a rule-abiding intelligence officer. Grant has painted his characters with a variety of personal attributes and struggles; in particular Frangie has to cope with racism on top of the military’s sexism. Her bravery and resilience in saving lives during battle while batting away invasive hands and comments is a shining example that serves not only as an attribute to her character, but also as a reminder of the awful hypocrisy of World War II as the Alliance fought against Hitler’s German supremacy while their own countries were still riddled with discrimination that continues to this day.

It was also interesting to note the book’s focus on everyday thoughts and dramas. Rio was not just a robotic soldier. She develops a relationship early on in the book and often reflects on silly things like whether her newly developed muscles will destroy any attraction to her. The romance was detrimental in Rio’s character development as she began to care less about how other people viewed her and took charge of her own feelings. Her growth throughout the book was a pleasure to see and I am rooting for her to become even more confident in herself.

This book was an incredible read but I was unsure how I felt about the love triangle. It may have been realistic as if any environment is going to create desperate and sudden feelings, it’s a war zone. But it seemed like unnecessary drama, falling into a trope of YA literature… Though I am definitely team Jack.

As the first book in a series, Front Lines had a major focus on character development and build up, which Grant did perfectly. Having previously read his Gone series, I was surprised by the historical focus rather than the usual weird and supernatural. This book has marked Grant as a diverse and talented author for me and I impatiently await the second instalment.

Further reading suggestions: Queen of Spies by Paddy Hayes and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Booklists.jpg Front Lines by Michael Grant is in the Top Ten Teens Books of 2016.

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