Review of Prisoner of Night and Fog by Ann Blankman

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog, #1)Prisoner of Night and Fog
By: Ann Blankman
Release Date: April 22nd 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Electronic ARC

An electronic copy was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
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?

My Thoughts:
I was thrilled to see Prisoner of Night and Fog pop up on Edelweiss because of the setting and subject matter. I have done some minor research and study into Hitler’s reign and even took a German Literature course in college. I found the horror of this time period along with Hitler’s ability to lure people to his cause to be unbelievable so I’ve always wanted to learn more about how this happened. Blankman did a good job at writing about this period and I found her descriptions easy to visualize. Even so, the pacing felt slow at times and I wished for a bit more to be developed in regards to the period and the characters. I felt that some of the  characters (Daniel and his family especially) could have used a bit more page space but I’m confident this will happen in follow up book (s).

I enjoyed watching Gretchen, our main character, grow and to start seeing things clearly. She begins the book being very naïve and easily swayed by the opinion’s of her family and those surrounding her. Her interactions with her ‘uncle’ (Adolf Hitler) were equally fascinating and horrifying knowing the bigger story. Blankman included many aspects of historical research to help to flesh out Hitler’s character some but I never fully felt how evil he was.

I loved that Blankman included some psychological anyalsis, which felt very accurate to the time period. I found Gretchen’s exploration into this to be some of my favorite aspects of the book. I did take issue with her brother; his lack of depth and personality was explained but he did feel one dimensional.

A warning to those sensitive to animal violence: there is a brief scene that is heart breaking.

When reading anything concerning Hitler I tend to ask the questions- How did someone like him rise through the ranks and gain power.  How could the general population (or anyone for that matter) support what he stood for? PoNaF tip toed around these things but never really drew a clear picture for me. I wanted more in regards to the desperation of the people after the first World War. His ability to speak publicly and how he was able to slowly inoculate his views into people was touched upon but not to the degree that gave me any real insight. Granted, this took place prior to the pinnacle of Hitler’s rule so I’ll be curious to see where Blankman takes her characters as the story and time progresses.

At some points PoNaF seemed to be less about these elements and more the backdrop behind some of the more typical young adult tropes. That being said, I did enjoy the romantic bits though they did tend to be a bit clichéd with this genre and easy to predict. I become squeamish and heart sick when predicting what might happen in the next book.

Final Thoughts:
It was evident that Blankman researched the time period and Adolf Hitler in particular to write Prisoner of Night & Fog. She was able to mix in many historical elements successfully though I felt that she missed some of the emotion that I needed to really connect to the storyline.

Book Trailer:

Comments

  1. says

    I love historical novels, and history in general, and like you I am kind of fascinated by how Hitler managed to get so many people behind him. I can’t wait to read this book, I think it sounds really good, although it would be better if it focussed on the people of Germany’s suffering and desperation after WWI. I didn’t know this was a series until the other day, so that’s even more intriguing!

    • says

      I didn’t know it was a series until after I read it. I look forward to reading your review since you also have an interest in this time period.

  2. says

    I’m so intrigued by this book! I’m glad to hear that despite wanting some more in depth looks at some of the issues, like Hitler’s rise to power and the consequences of WWI, this book managed to be satisfying for you!
    Great review Kristen, and thanks for the warning about animal violence!

  3. says

    Ack. I didn’t love this book. But I am also very interested in the Hitler time period. Though.. I wanted this book to focus on the Holocaust, I think. Sigh. And it didn’t.. You know, like Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire 😀 Those books were brilliant. Sigh. And I want more books like that. <3 But anyway. Amazing review Kristen. <3 I'm glad you managed to enjoy this book despite not loving it 🙂 Oh, and I also found it boring at times. Sigh. I wanted it to be more awful (A) but it still was pretty bad. Also. Me too. I didn't see that Hitler was really evil in this book. Which made me a bit sad, to be honest. Hih. Ack. And the cat! Heartbreak. But I also felt like Gretchen didn't care enough. I would NEVER have done nothing to the person who did something like that to my cat. Ugh. I also didn't connect enough to this book; which is why it is a three star for me. Sigh. But I am curious about the second one 🙂 Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

    • says

      I need to read Code Name–I’ve STILL not read it! I have heard nothing but praise so I really should get on it. I think the second book will be leading into more of the Holocaust time period…which honestly I dread reading about. I know it’ll rip my heart to pieces. Now I can head over and read your review–couldn’t read it until I hit publish on mine 🙂

  4. says

    I really, really liked this book. I agree about the pacing and some of the characters can use some more pages, but I love what she did with the history and how she portrayed Hitler. I can’t wait for the sequel 🙂

  5. says

    I’m waffling on this one. I’ll read a great review, and be convinced to read it, then I’ll read a not-so-great review, and think maybe not immediately. However, this is the first mention of animal violence, and I am VERY sensitive to that kind of thing . . . I don’t know. Maybe if I can get it from the library . . .

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    • says

      Yea, I’d say the library might be a good idea. I wasn’t just blown away with it. I did enjoy aspects but overall I felt it could have used a good amount of oomph. I hope the second book will be stronger. If you do read it I’ll be curious to hear what you think.

  6. says

    I wonder, if Hitler was not an actual person, and if we didn’t know what we know about him, how would the character of Hitler in this book have come across? As you alluded to, has the book actually shown us his supposed “charisma,” or are we just supposed to take the author’s word that it exists? Maybe I’m not being fair, because this is set before he really comes to full power, but I do hope the next books can answer these questions better.

    • says

      I completely agree. I felt that a lot of the story was dependent upon my own knowledge and perceptions of what things were like at that time. I think the next book will be stronger…we shall see.

  7. says

    I am intrigued by this book, especially the challenging idea that the person who is reviled by history (and rightly so) was also a man who had a family and friends. Great review!

  8. says

    NOOOOO, the Hitler elements were tiptoed around? This may seem weird, but I mainly want to read Prisoner of Night & Fog because it focuses on Hitler and World War II and I want to learn more about them. Hopefully the next book would actually explain all your questions and some of mine when I read the book.

    • says

      I was drawn to this book for those same reasons. I thought it would give a look from the other side and see how people close to Hitler were pulled in by his views and capable of going against basic right and wrong to support him. I didn’t feel that I got that from this book. It was a decent read but it didn’t’ fulfill what I wanted exactly…so I guess that’s not fair to the book. I hate it when I think a book will be one way and it is another. I hope you enjoy this book when you read.

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