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One day in Sosnowiec, with the war still in place, an announcement was made for families to report to the soccer stadium for a new identification system. But that was a lie. They weren’t given new ids; they were brought to concentration camps to either get killed or work like a slave. Zofia and her brother, Abek, were sorted to the right. But the rest of their family, they went left — they were killed right then and there.
Now that the war is over, Zofia is looking earnestly for her brother. Before they got separated, she promised him that they will meet again and complete their alphabet — A to Z, Abek to Zofia. But when she comes back to Sosnowiec with the help of a Russian soldier, Abek is not there, contrary to what they have agreed on. She then receives some news that she might find him in a resettlement camp in Germany. That same night, she steals money from the same soldier who helped her and hops on a train from Poland to Germany, with high hopes of finding Abek and finally bringing him home.
I was disappointed in this book. I wasn’t able to finish reading it so I switched to an audio version. I was thinking, maybe if I shake things up, I might appreciate it more. Still, that was not enough for me. The story is okay; it was Zofia’s character that irritated me. She’s just too much — too naive, too stubborn, too hopeful. I’ve read several books before with young female leads and they have just the right amount of everything, not like this. I was trying to admire her fighting spirit, but it was overflowing that I found it to be some kind of toxic positivity. The book was not terrible though; it was just not for me.
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Abdul Ghali, a CIA analyst, is tasked to go after Milo Weaver — the head of The Library. The Library is a private organization collecting classified information all over the world. It does not trust the authorities, hence its creation, and is often involved with terrorists and violence. But Abdul is not a field agent. For the longest time, he’s been sitting behind his desk and computer analyzing data. So the big question is, why is the CIA sending him and why now? This book is the fourth installment in the Milo Weaver series, but it can’t be read as a standalone. It uses jargon, most of which I would not have understood had I not read similar spy books before. The story-telling is dry and cold. The characters are two-dimensional. It’s easy to get confused between Milo and Alan, between Leticia and Alexandra because sometimes it’s not clear who’s speaking. There are no chapter headings to indicate whose POV it is. There is no clear mission to the point that it gets frustrating. At first, they are tracking Milo, then Abdul, the Milo again, then someone else. The story is dragging, and things only quicken at ~30%. On a positive note, the book tackles relevant issues, is backed-up with good research, and is feminist.
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review. Check my sidebar; follow me here and on the rest of my social media accounts for more bookish content and honest reviews!
From the cover to the blurb, The Girl in the Tree looked promising. I was intrigued and wanted to start reading it right away. However, after about halfway in the first chapter, I realized that the story was all over the place. The narration took a lot of turns that it was hard for me to follow the protagonist’s main point. I put the book down and gave it another chance the next day. Nothing changed. I still felt lost as the narrative branched into a lot of mini-stories, that is why I decided not to finish it. I’m not sure if it was the translation that made it weird and confusing, or not. This one just did not appeal to me as I was reading along and I felt like I was only dragging myself page after page. I would still recommend this book though. I did not like it but it was not terrible. Other readers might enjoy the zigzagging turn of events and might give it more chance than I did. P.S. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.