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Monday, October 23, 2017

A Night Divided By Jennifer A. Nielsen [book review]

HELLO YES WE HAVE A BOOK REVIEW TODAY. There's actually two reasons for this. One, I haven't done a book review since April. April. I think we can all agree: THAT'S TOO LONG.

Two, I'm stalling you guys. CONFESSION TIME. I still haven't finished any of the most voted for of my post ideas. (see my last post if you want to add your votes :D) So instead I'm throwing up a book review to appease you while you wait for something that you actually voted for. You're welcome. xD












From New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can't help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?




So APPARENTLY I've had this book on my tbr shelf for a year?? CLEARLY THIS IS A CRIME. Once I finally picked it up, I easily devoured it in about a day. It's one of those books that just happens. You start reading it, and suddenly it's four hours later and you have 57 things to do and you've done NONE OF THEM. So approach this book at your own risk. xD 

I'm thinking a list review would work well here because list reviews are easier to write and I still have those 57 things to get done. So. LET'S DO THIS. 


POSITIVE ELEMENTS

+ It's REALLY well-plotted. I figured out some of what was going to happen, but there was pleeentyyyy that caught me off guard. Plus, the events of the plot gradually raise the stakes and consistently force the main characters into action, which makes for a super exciting story. 

+ The way the characters related to each other is complex, and character relationships don't exist outside of the plot-instead, they enhance the plot. Gerta and Anna's complicated relationship fuels conflict when Gerta realizes she has to get into Anna's room. Fritz's and Anna's relationship with their mother creates a lot of conflict as their solutions to their problems clash. Fritz's relationship with Claudia, while never actually shown, helps to push Fritz over the edge of wanting to escape. 

+ It's about FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS HALLELUJAH. I especially liked how it focused on siblings. (Gerta/Fritz) It's not about romance AT ALL. It's about the relationships between a family as they face danger together. 

+ All the side characters were handled really well. There quite a few, and the author did a great job of using them to add to the conflict and drive the story forward. Even characters that never actually appeared in the story (they were only mentioned) helped create more conflict for the main characters. (like Claudia and Oma Gertrude) 

+ The character development and themes were really, really good. Somehow this author wrote fairly generic themes (like bravery, sacrifice, etc) into a novel WITHOUT making it cliche AT ALL. 

+ It's unique. I've never read a book quite like this one before. Historical fiction set in this era seems to be fairly unusual, so this book has a lot to bring to the table. Plus, it's completely clean, which can also be unusual for historical fiction. (unfortunately D:) 

+ LOTS AND LOTS OF HISTORICAL INFO. I didn't know a whole lot about this era before I read this book, and I DEFINITELY didn't know what it was like to live in East Berlin during this time. 


NEGATIVE ELEMENTS 

+ The book seemed to bring up Gerta's age too often. It wasn't INCREDIBLY frequent, but it did keep coming up. Plus, she's only supposed to be twelve, and she acts and thinks like someone who's closer to 15. Which DOES make sense, since her circumstances definitely do force her to grow up sooner than most, but the fact that the book brought up her age multiple times sorta threw me for a loop. 

+ Fritz felt a little bland to me. There wasn't very much about him that would distinguish him from any other almost-18-year-old living in this time period. 

+ The setting was a little skeletal. When I say "setting", I don't mean WHEN the story took place, I mean WHERE it took place. I had a hard time visualizing most of the settings except for the Welcome Building. 

+ IT WENT BY TOO FAST. XD



All in all, I'd 100% recommend this one! It was well-written, suspenseful, and had a great cast of characters. If you like historical than you should DEFINITELY try this. (and even if you don't like historical, you should still try it. XP)




30 comments:

  1. Oooh, this one sounds like something I need to read! XD *adds to TBR*

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  2. Nice review. I already said that on Goodreads, but I figured it'd be nice to comment on your blog, too. XD

    This book is interesting because its YA and middle grade, though I'm not sure if middle grade readers should read something with this much suspense. The setting alone makes it sound pretty suspenseful.

    Anyway, great review. :)

    ~Ivie
    iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    1. Haha well I like blog comments more than Goodreads comments, so thanks! XD

      OKAY IT'S SO TRUE THOUGH. It's like that gray area between MG and YA where it has some MG elements but some YA elements. Personally I'm thinking it had more MG elements though. *nods*

      Thanks!

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  3. Yes! I read this book about a year ago (has it really been that long?), and it was so hard to put down! I remember that the plot kept on getting more and more tense, and I just wanted to know what on earth would happen already! But at the same time, it was over so quickly! I definitely agree with you on the last con. ;) The fact that this book focuses on the family rather than romance is always a plus. But Jennifer Nielsen did a really great job with this book - I'll have to go reread it now.

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    1. SAME FOR ME. The author did a really great job with raising the stakes. Yeeesss agreed- family relationships in fiction are waaay underrated and romance is waay overrated. xD

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  4. jsyk, I ordered it from my library.

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    Replies
    1. GOOD JOB. I was actually going to recommend it to you on Goodreads but I forgot lol

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  5. I've been wanting to read this FOREVER. I loved Jennifer A. Nielsen's False Prince series (for the life of me I can't remember the name of the trilogy, oops) and I loooooooove historical fiction. Plus, like you said, fiction set in this era is a rarity, so I'm really interested to read about it. Definitely bumped back to the top of my TBR now!

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    1. DO IT. (Hahaha it's Ascendance Trilogy :D) Yeesss that's right you do love historical fiction- I think you'd really enjoy this then. Can't wait to see what you think!

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  6. I literally almost bought this Saturday. There's a bookstore in my town that perpetually looks like a tornado just hit it, and this book was lying on top of a pile of books and I recognized the author. Onto the TBR list it goes.

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  7. Since APRIL? Sheesh, Jonathan xD. But YOU REVIEWED A NIELSON BOOK. She's one of my top-favorite authors, so I was super excited to see what you thought of this book. AND NOW I NEED IT. I wasn't going to read it (because ... eh, historical fiction and me are not best friends *shrugs*) but it's NIELSON and it actually seems pretty awesome. Thanks for sharing the epic review!

    ~ Savannah | Scattered Scribblings

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    1. RIGHT? I didn't realize it had been so long, so I was kinda surprised when I checked my archives. xD

      YES Jennifer Nielsen is a pretty great author. *nods* I appreciate that most of her books (all the ones I've read, at least) are clean. :D Even if you don't like historical, you still might like this? Never hurts to give it a shot though!

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  8. Ooh this sounds really cool. I must find this somewhere.
    Sadly finding books is being really hard at the moment because the library is being touchy and shipping makes my wallet cry.

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    Replies
    1. THEN FIRE YOUR LIBRARY. Or... find a used bookstore and keep the library as back-up? xD

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  9. I MUST READ THIS. I was literally reading about the Berlin Wall ten minutes ago and wondering if someone had written a fictional story set in that time. I would write one if I didn't dislike history as I do SO I'LL GO READ THIS ONE XD Great review!

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    1. INDEED YOU MUST. XD Whaaaat no way! Yes you definitely need to read it then. *nods*

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  10. Clean, non-romantic historical fiction!!???!? SIGN ME UP PLEASE. I must read this book now. Thanks for adding YET ANOTHER book to my dangerously precarious TBR list. *glares* Just what I needed.

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  11. I had this book for a while, but didn't end up reading it until like, late spring. IT'S SO CUTE AND AH I LOVE IT NOW.

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  12. Great review! The book sounds really cool (also Jennifer A. Nielsen is awesome). NOW I WANT TO READ THIS. XD

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    1. Thanks! Ok if you already know you like this author than you DEFINITELY NEED TO TRY THIS SHOO GO DO THAT. XD

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  13. Oh my goodness, I just put this on my TBR!! That's really funny. Great review, I shall definitely be reading this one.

    Lilah
    lilahsmusicals.blogspot.com

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  14. Oh... this is just my type of book. But to find it so I can read it.... I guess I'll add it to read :D great review! Thanks for making me want to read another book (Like I have too many to read already)

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    1. IT TOTALLY IS. (because you like historical, right?) Haha well good luck finding it! I actually found it yesterday at a used bookstore for $2.50 so I'm feeling pretty good about myself. :P

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    2. I love historical, though I usually prefer non-fiction anymore as most historical fiction (in my opinion) is garbage. And that does make me jealous... the way to get good books ;)

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    3. It's truuuue so much historical fiction is full of bad stuff. D: Such a shame.

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