Title: Silver Stars
Author: Michael Grant
Series: Front Lines #2
Genre: YA Alternative History
The summer of 1943, World War II. With heavy memories of combat, Frangie, Rainy, Rio, and the rest of the American army are moving on to their next target: the Italian island of Sicily.
The women won’t conquer Italy alone. They are not heroes for fighting alongside their brothers—they are soldiers. But Frangie, Rainy, Rio, and the millions of brave females fighting for their country have become a symbol in the fight for equality. They will brave terrible conditions in an endless siege; they will fight to find themselves on the front lines of WWII; and they will come face-to-face with the brutality of war until they win or die.
Source: ARC from Electric Monkey via NetGalley
Once again Michael Grant has written a powerful book that doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to the brutality of war, sexism, racism and antisemitism, not to mention torture and the weight of being responsible for others. Once again our three main heroines prove themselves to be both ordinary and extraordinary, heroes in their moments, yet never desiring of such titles or accolades.
It did take me a while to get back into the flow of the story. When it comes to battles and the movements of the war, that’s where this book is best. When the action happens and it’s life or death, or even during the aftermath when everyone is trying to make sense of things, this book grabs my attention and doesn’t easily let go. However, the first quarter or so isn’t about that, it’s about Rio and her fellow soldiers lying around in the desert, waiting for their next orders to come through, while Rainy is back in New York, almost normal again. We don’t see much of Frangie, sadly, but when we do she always shines.
This first quarter dragged a fair bit for me. There’s a lot of detail about life in 1940s New York and what Rainy’s up to, which is interesting, but felt a bit superfluous. Rio’s romantic dramas are also tiresome to me, especially when it’s so clear that Jack is the only true choice.
Once this first section is over with, however, the pace picks up and things get a lot more interesting and absorbing. Rainy’s mission not only puts her in peril, but truly tests her for the first time. I’ve always found her intelligence impressive, but she wasn’t particularly likable before, being slightly arrogant and aware of how good she is and how easily she does everything asked of her. This time around she is tested to breaking point and finally discovers all that she is made of. It made her much more real to me and I truly cared what happened to her.
Once again Rio proves herself to be far stronger than she ever knew, even as she tries to fight being given more responsibilities. She is a natural leader, though, but it’s nice to see she hasn’t changed too much. Her competence might be unnerving, if only she wasn’t still slightly naive about certain things here and there.
Finally, there’s Frangie, who I would have liked to have seen more of. Her experience of war is a lot different to the other two in many ways, not least because of the racism – both overt and casual – that she faces. Her calm competence under pressure is still there, but there are more questions in her mind now and she definitely is not the same girl she was when she left home.
Woven throughout is a powerful sense of history. The addition of female fighters might be made up, but pretty much everything else is real. If you have a passion for history, this book is written for you. From tiny details to full scale battles, the research for this book has clearly been immense and it shows. I’m not particularly familiar with the Italian side of WW2, but after reading this I definitely want to find out more.
Powerful, detailed and epic, this is an excellent follow up to Front Lines. It won’t be for everyone, being long and highly detailed and containing uncomfortable language and plot lines, but if history is your thing, then you should really give this a try.
Silver Stars is Out Now.
Visit Michael Grant for more details.