Monday, February 3, 2014

book review: The Secret of Raven Point by Jennifer Vanderbes

The backstory: I previously loved Strangers at the Feast, so I was eager to read the latest novel by Jennifer Vanderbes.

The basics: When her older brother and best friend goes off to fight in World War II, seventeen-year-old Juliet is devastated. Soon she receives a mysterious letter from him and discovers he's missing in action. Juliet lies about her age and enlists as an Army nurse, with the goal of getting as close to the front as possible so she can find answers about her brother's disappearance.

My thoughts: Juliet is a character who intrigued me from the beginning, when we meet her working after school in the science lab. She's smart, driven, and young, and I was curious where life would take her. As she decided to join the war effort, it made sense:
"But Juliet was growing increasingly certain of her intent to leave Charlesport; she did not want to be as Tuck had once described her--a girl who curiously opened every door but never walked through one."
There's a timelessness to such girlhood dreams, and I was most curious how World War II would shape Juliet's life and choices. As the book went on, however, I became less engaged with the characters and their lives. The novel, with flashes of beautiful and poignant writing, turned into a rather ordinary war novel. Perhaps I'm reaching World War I and World War II fatigue, but The Secret of Raven Point failed to distinguish itself from other stories of smart, driven young women who head to the front.

Favorite passage: "That was the arc of life, it seemed; the slow and grateful recognition of those who were, by chance or fate, simply with you."

The verdict: Ultimately, I was disappointed. The Secret of Raven Point is a rather ordinary war novel. While Juliet was a fascinating character to root for, her story felt too familiar. While I appreciate that war itself isn't tied up neatly, I wanted more answers to the questions raised in this novel.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Length: 320 pages
Publication date: February 4, 2014 
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Secret of Raven Point from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Jennifer Vanderbes's website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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1 comment:

  1. And what I didn't understand fully, was the secret! Vanderbes took us down one path, and I thought I understood but then ultimately what I thought was not the case. I won't mention it here because I don't want to spoil it for anyone. But, do you know what I mean?


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