Front Lines by Michael Grant
Update 2.0: Ha. Ha, ha, ha. This is such a great representation of who I am as a writer and reader and person in general. It is now at least a year later and I’m just getting ready to post this. Dinner is ready, though so maybe I’ll have a third update up here when I try to post it again in a couple of years.
Update: So, I totally typed this up weeks and weeks ago and never got around to posting it. Why? Because I discovered Grant’s other series! Gone series post coming soon! Just kidding, I’ll probably forget for months!
This was originally written in early 2016. I suck.
My husband bought me this blog as a Christmas present. That was months and months ago. I just haven’t had time between school, work, spawn-raising, and being a generally lazy-ass piece of garbage. I took a break from classes over the summer so I got to catch up on reading. I read as much as I could get my fat hands on. I forgot how much I loved reading for pleasure instead of reading solely for school so I just kept reading and reading and forgot to write about it. Then something happened and I had to type this up right away because I just could. Not. Wait. No intro about who I am. No intro about what this blog will include. No time! This is important!
I was at the library a few weeks ago to get the offspring some books (he specifically wanted a book about princesses riding monster trucks) and to get myself the third installment of the Peculiar Children series. Sometimes I forget that other people exist and read and that the library doesn’t exist only for me. Someone else had the book I needed so I stomped and huffed around for a while. This was particularly dramatic as our library is the size of a large bathroom. I glanced at the “New Arrival” section and angrily snatched up a book that had a big #1 sticker on the spine. At least I knew it was the first of a series and I wouldn’t have to be bothered by other people getting in my literary way! I totally calmed down when I looked at the beautiful cover. The book was Front Lines by Michael Grant. Check out this cover. (I am very guilt of judging books by their covers.)
I’m really, really not into military stuff. I don’t understand politics or strategies and the only military book I’ve ever enjoyed was The Indian in the Cupboard and I’m not sure that actually counts. (It totally does!)
I’m a huge fan of historical fiction. I’m pretty picky about the historical fiction I read, though. I find that they often have way too much romance and I’m not a fan of books with way too much romance. Pretty much anything that advertises romance is usually too much romance for me. I think I’ve just read a lot of badly written romantic plots which seem to just have half-assed stories thrown around them to fill pages. Perhaps I’m just a terrible person with a cold, cold heart. Either way, I avoid romance novels and any stories that boast being full of romance. This book didn’t seem too forcibly romantic. Women! World War II! Alternate History! Those exclamation marks are a lie. I was still in a bad mood so it was more like, “Women, WWII, alternate history. Doesn’t sound like I’ll want to die if I read it.”
I read it in one sitting. You guys.
I read a lot of books and I talk about books a lot but I haven’t been this excited about something I just finished in a very long time. This book was amazing. So fucking amazing.
Grant does a fantastic job of reminding us that these soldiers were previously civilians. They’re kids. Kids who refer to 29-year-olds as “older women.” They’re heartbreakingly young and inexperienced. They end up as soldiers for different reasons and come from different places. The story deals with an alternate history where women fought in combat in WWII. There’s, of course, a lot of sexism but the struggles certainly don’t stop there. Grant tackles racism, family issues, religion, and more on the back of a group of teens that find themselves on the front lines of battle. The military detail and jargon is just enough to be realistic without being too confusing for those of us who know very little to nothing on this subject. I kind of like the small amount of struggle I experienced trying to follow some of the more technical descriptions. It reminded me of how much these kids learned in such a short amount of time and how quick and efficient they needed to be. It’s terrifying, really. There were parts of battle scenes that made me extremely anxious.
The best part about the book is probably the character development. I sometimes have trouble keeping up with too many characters in a story. I’m looking at you, Lord of the Rings and every fantasy ever. The characters in Grant’s Front Lines are very vivid, relatable (in different ways), and lifelike.
I could go on and on but this is a blog post and not the novel I keep pretending I’ll finish someday. I just really want you to give Front Lines a try. Even if you don’t usually read YA books. I’m not sure what really fits into that genre anymore. Even if you aren’t into war stories. I think you’ll find that Front Lines appeals to a huge variety of readers. Honestly, even if you don’t like the story, you’re going to like the characters. I’ve never been so excited about a writer’s ability to bring people to life as I am with Michael Grant. Dude can write.