Monday, May 5, 2014

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog

Title: Prisoner of Night and Fog
Author: Anne Blankman
Category/Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Romance

See it at Goodreads

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

Prisoner of Night and Fog presented a story that felt much different from the usual World War II tale we often see. This wasn’t about the Holocaust or a Jew trying to survive in a camp or hiding out in family’s home, etc.. Instead, we’re given a different perspective with the view of a German girl within close proximity of Hitler himself and having a Nazi-crazed brother. A girl that doesn’t quite understand the reality of her world in the beginning, but begins to see things as she learns through observation and a growing conscious.

This book pulled at my heart strings in so many ways. Many times, it’s said a child will only know hate and such by how they’re raised within their family, and I was glad in a way that the content of this story proved otherwise. I’ve always felt a child can learn these ‘traits’ --and unlearn them-- through other means besides family: whether it’s peers, current events, and their own growing mind that makes them their own individual self. I’ve witnessed this first hand, myself being a parent and raising my own stepchildren... As well as my own upbringing. People who know me best, know that I’m very open-minded and loving and supportive of many organizations. I try to raise my step-kids the same way, but I also did teach them to be their own individual selves with the right to what they believe when they were old enough to understand. There have been numerous times when I’ve had to chastise one for hateful remarks, and it wasn’t because they learned these thoughts/beliefs from home--but from peers and being easily influenced with those similar situations. It hurts at times, when I hear immediate assumptions coming from people of any child during adolescent ages: “oh they get that from their parents…” No. That’s not how it always works. One can’t judge by this. And it also works vice versa: beliefs/morals can change on their own as well, despite what one might be ‘used to hearing’ around them. I have vastly different beliefs from my mother-- and she tried to raise me on hers. We’re all just our own individuals eventually, in my opinion.

Trust me, I had a reason to get sidetracked with a semi off-topic discussion or whatever.

This is why I connected with PoNaF so much, I think. Gretchen has been raised around these ideas presented to her that we know of as hate, and many times in the beginning, the reader is brought back through her thoughts and fears while she is around her newfound Jew friend, Daniel, to remind herself how “wrong” it is when it’s not. And her revelation to knowing Hitler and his side has been wrong all along was mesmerizing and chaotic and brilliant. I adored the way she interacted with Daniel, the forbidden feelings that left the reader on the edge of their seat hoping they wouldn’t get caught since it was such an awful time… And the slow growth and development as she came to realize there was something wrong with the world after all, and it was only about to get worse when Hitler--Uncle Dof--would come into full power. It all started with that first kind act of a helping hand that most people nowadays probably wouldn’t take a second to consider doing. Back then, it was different, especially depending on who you were. She didn’t hesitate, stepping up to her crazed brother, and it only showed once again that hatred works differently for every human brain.

The really interesting part of it was also Hitler. He was presented in this story unlike any other I’ve read in recent years: He was nearly humanized. Almost to a point where a reader could sympathize with him as a character until his later traits come out and you begin to really understand the depth of What Is Adolf Hitler. I genuinely believe the truth in this book. The man was pure psychopath. It astounded me to read him as a character--not just in the background somewhere with small notations of the damage he is causing. But dialogue and interaction. I’m still dumbfounded by this guy.

The romance even worked. I didn’t expect to like it so much going into the book, to be honest, but when it happened, it worked. And it worked beautifully. Sure, it may have been a little cliché. You probably couldn’t have got any more cliché than that, really, with the romance…. However, it was completely beautiful and adorable and I loved it. Shipping that ship there totally.

I was locked in tight for this book from the moment I’d started reading. It’d been a book I’d anticipated since the start of the year and I’m glad I had the opportunity to sit and read this one after the hectic schedule I’ve had lately. Once I’d started, I couldn’t put it down… and I didn’t. I read through the night until I reached the end because I had to know what happened next. Every time I tried to stop, I was continuing on to the next page or chapter! Certainly not a title you want to miss out on this year!



  1. I forgot to mention in my above post this marks off my first piece for Bookish Bingo! (I'm too lazy and don't want to edit the post... just deal with a comment here. LoL).

  2. Oh, Pixie, I want to read this!!


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