I have very mixed feelings about this book. But at the end of the day I did enjoy it.
I think I was expecting a different progression of the story, got a wee bit disappointed midway through then was adequately satisfied with how things wrapped up. Not blown away in the level I was expecting I suppose, but it did reach me someplace unnameable. I think more than anything I loved how this was a book about extraordinary women doing extraordinary things during extraordinary times.
This is not a spoiler as you can pretty much see from the Table of Contents that the book is divided into two parts so, much like how it was with Gone Girl, you know something’s going to happen. I found the first half to be exquisite. In 1943, an EnglishScottish wireless operator is being interrogated in the Gestapo HQ in Ormaie, France. And she’s telling them everything in exchange for time. A disjointed story about two girls that sent my imagination into a tail-spin, endlessly wondering if these are memories, fabrications or foreshadowings.
I loved how for a certain stretch, every time I finished a chapter I had to re-read it all over again under a different frame of mind and theory. The tension was delicious enough to sustain me through the obscure aircraft-speak which is probably going to be an insurmountable deterrent for some. It was tolerable early on, easy for my pedestrian, non-aeronautic brain to glaze over, but it does progressively get more complex and ingrained in the story that I can’t help but feel I’m missing something if I don’t exert the minimum effort to understand some of it in the most rudimentary level I could fathom.
It was hard, at first, to look past the gun sight sockets and camera fixing plates and rows and rows of bomb selector switches for bombs she wasn’t carrying, a Morsing key for a radio that wasn’t connected, etc.
Fly the plane, Maddie.
But it was also filled with elegant wit and humour, observations that were both clever and heart-wrenching. manages to be harrowing without being graphic, funny without being offensive and in the process making me like both protagonists’ complexity but not outright oversimplifying the characters that are supposed to be the bad guys.
But it was also filled with elegant wit and humour, observations that were both clever and heart-wrenching. Verity manages to be harrowing without being graphic, funny without being offensive and in the process making me like both protagonists’ complexity but not outright oversimplifying the characters that are supposed to be the bad guys.
I do admit to being a wee bit disappointed how things turned beyond 60%. I think I was expecting something more sinister, more worthy of all that wonderful gripping tension the first half managed to dole out in every turn it took. It was like hearing a vague, atmospheric horror story that makes you imagine the worst kind of monster and being let down by the big reveal that oh, it’s a dragon. And a dragon is of course awesome, but it’s not exactly a Fifty-headed, gigantic half-siberian tiger, half-bear (begging everyone’s pardon, my imagination has gone shot after reading this I fear) that breathes fire and fires lasers through its eyes.
But then it pulls you again to another corner and takes your breath away in the very last minute. In a way I didn’t think possible after I’ve been made to abandon my siberian tiger-slash-bear of an ending.
It’s awful telling it like this, isn’t it? As though we didn’t know the ending. As though it could have another ending. It’s like watching Romeon drink poison. Every time you see it you get fooled into thinking his girlfriend might wake up and stop him. Every single time you see it you want to shout, You stupid ass, just wait a minute and she’ll open her eyes! Oi, you, you twat, open your eyes, wake up! Don’t die this time! But they always do.
Then you remember dragons are just as awesome.