Sparrow Squadron

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

Who doesn't love reading about tough women doing amazing things that no one thinks they can? Over the past week or two I've been reading Sparrow Squadron an amazing new YA historical fiction by D.L. Jung. 

The novel is set in Russia in 1941. Sparrow Squadron focuses on Aelya Makarova, 16-year-old flying prodigy. She was born to fly and has been training for most her life to fly planes. When the Soviet Air Force starts recruiting women, Aelya is overcome with a desire to make a difference in the war and protect her homeland. She does everything she can to become a fighter pilot.

She is faced with Nazis, petty rivalries within her own female unit, and male pilots who don't think that women can fly and handle the difficulties of war. Aelya is faced with many challenges that she didn't expect from war. Ultimately, she must think about what she is willing to sacrifice for her country.

I was really intrigued by this novel, mostly because I've read a lot of WWII novels but none that focuses on the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union in general isn't something that I'm very familiar with and so I thought this would be a good opportunity to experience something new!

I'll admit that some parts were a little slow. But of course, this parallels actual war. It isn't all about constant battles and winning. Sometimes you are sitting around waiting for the action. Other times the book is just about the minor relationships between the characters and how they are handling the war.

I was anticipating that the novel would contain some things that I didn't understand since the novel is set in Soviet Russia and I don't know much about WWII involving Russia. However, there was a little more that I didn't know than expected. I didn't realize until I finished the book that there was a glossary in the back that defined a lot of Russia terms and other things that I had to look up on my own.

Even though this book is billed as a YA novel, I would say that it might be more for high school than the junior high kids I teach just because sometimes Aelya's view on life and the war is a little morbid. It's a difficult thing to hear about so much death among young people.

Overall, I felt like this was a really interesting read that did teach me a lot of things that I didn't previously know about WWII and the Russians. I liked that it centered on a young girl who was capable of doing such awesome things! It is loosely based on the true story of a female unit of fighter pilots and true stories make the best kind of fiction.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves reading YA, historical fiction, WWII, and adventurous women!
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Aelya is a 16 year old female pilot in the Soviet Union during WWII. Separated from her family at the beginning of the war and unable to fly in the army due to her gender, Aelya is stuck digging trenches. After awhile she breaks off in search of finding a place for herself in the Air Force. She started out having a one track mind for flying but overtime learned that there was so much more to life than flying. Aelya’s story is told as she battles both physical enemies and herself. 

Here’s the thing— neither Aelya nor any of the other characters were particularly likeable. They didn’t act as a group and form a camaraderie. I have brief moments where I like one of them, but then something happens and they’re just annoying and unremarkable (or too showy). They may call each other friends, but never act like it. The book was too full of hatred to find anything redeemable. 

The author did an excellent job of imagery and I was easily able to picture everything that was occurring. Aelya was a strong protagonist and displayed strong emotions. I was able to not only picture her, but also started to feel much as she does about different events and people. However, the book was really slow. It was long and hard to remember names as there were many characters. When someone died, it was unremarkable because the characters were all strangers to the reader.
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3.5

This was yet another book about a part of WWII that I didn’t know a lot about. Most books focus on Germany, America, and France, but this one took place in Russia and dealt with female fighter pilots during the war. I was intrigues to read something new and get new insight on the war.

While the story itself was interesting, I felt rather disconnected from it. There was a lot of stuff that was talked about but never really explained. I knew Russia was involved in the war, but their part isn’t discussed as much. The book, however, feels like it’s written as if the reader knows what Russia’s part in everything was. There were also several terms talked about that I didn’t really understand, such as Roza talking about hiding her last name and a family member being an unperson. It’s never explained completely and may leave readers feeling confuse. 

Aelya was a decent main character. She had a clear voice talking about her frustrations and excitement with flying. However, I don’t feel like she had much growth throughout the novel. At the beginning she was trying to fit in and fly well and had frustrations, but by the end she was angry and still had frustrations and was picking fights with the other pilots. Part of that can be explained by the war setting, but I still felt like by the end of the novel she should have gotten over petty difference with the other pilots. 

There were also a LOT of characters. Not only that, many of the characters also had nicknames, so it was really hard at times to keep track of who was who. And then there were names getting thrown around of people who hadn’t been in the book at all, but were written as if you should have a connection to them. At one point Aelya mentions two pilots by name who were missing that hadn’t been mentioned before. And while she’s upset over the incident, it’s hard for the reader to make an emotional connection. There’s simply too many people to keep track of, and throwing out random names of more people that haven’t been introduced makes it confusing and cluttered.

The petty fights between the pilots also detracted from the story. Yes, there will be issues between people, but it seemed like there were so many. Characters were constantly fighting and bullying each other. The female pilots fought with each other and played cruel jokes. The men picked on the female pilots and harassed them. The men also fought with each other, trying to see who was king of the hill. It got to be a little much, especially because the book itself is about a war. But instead of talking about the war, it focused instead on fighting within ranks.

The book did have a lot of positives though. I did enjoy reading about a book set in Russia and dealing with Russia’s part in the war. I also enjoyed the fact that it was about female fighter pilots, which is a subject that hasn’t been covered much. The air battles were well written, as were the parts talking about base and the planes.

This is a good debut, and I’m interested to see where the story goes in the sequel, and also how the author will improve and grow.
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Thank you net galley for the advance read copy of this novel.   I was very excited to read this book about Soviet women pilots in WWII.   This book did a good job highlighting the inner struggles of Aelyas pilot group...and in fact I was skipping over some places to move on.    I enjoy historical fiction and this book was on a topic I hadn't read a ton on.
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SPARROW SQUADRON follows Aelya who joins the Soviet Air Force during WWII spurred by a desire to do more to help the war effort than dig trenches with her Komsomol club. The story is told more in snapshots of Aelya's life during the war than an over-arching story. We see Aelya's squabbles with the other women in her regiment, her struggle to figure out what kind of pilot she is, and the endless bureaucracy of a country at war. The amount of rich details in SPARROW SQUADRON makes it clear that the author really did his research. There's even a helpful historical background at the back of the book for those that may be a little unfamiliar with the history of the Soviet Union and its role in WWII. 

I enjoyed this book and its look at an often-neglected area of WWII. Aelya's regiment is full of interesting people, from the brash Tonya who always has illegal goods to "Auntie" Lara who does her best to keep the regiment safe and constantly goes to the mat for the women's right to fly planes. The biggest thing I felt was missing from Sparrow Squadron was an emotional connection to the characters. I found them interesting to read about but wish I had felt more concerned with their fates. Aelya was just a bit too perfect to really root for -- since it seemed like she was always going to come through okay no matter what happened around her. 

Overall, this was a solid debut that tells an important story. There's lots of good characters and snapshots of life behind the Soviet front to keep things interesting. Plus, who doesn't love women flying planes?
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Following along with young soviet pilot, Aelya, allows you to travel back in time and experience what it was like to fight the nazi's in the soviet union. Historical fiction that is great for anyone who loves a war story, esp. one that follows a young woman trying to join the fight. The highs and lows keep you wondering what's next for the hero. Comradery and Rivalry play out against the backdrop of war. A squadron of women pilots fighting to prove themselves to each other and to their male counterparts and to a nation at war. Great for anyone who likes a strong war story.
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This book is so LONG and SLOW that I seriously doubt many readers will be able to finish it. I've been reading it for DAYS now and I'm still only 38% of the way through it. It's just the same stuff over and over again. Girl wants to be a pilot. Girl gets to be a pilot. Girl doesn't get to see combat while less trained boys do. And the drama. Seriously. I DON'T CARE THAT EVERYONE IN HER GROUP DOES NOT GET ALONG! If I wanted a story featuring cliguey girls I would have read a book by Lisi Harrison. Aelya's fellow pilots just won't stop fighting each other and I honestly could care less about it just MOVE ON ALREADY. It really isn't a bad story, it's just a really long and slow one. Good luck.
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This was such a good read. The historical events are almost scarily accurate, especially since Jung chose not to hide what war really is — the grim realities and the brutal losses. 

Aelya is the protagonist who joins a women's fighter squadron in the Russian Air Force against the Germans. She's a strong woman, and it was so nice seeing her grow into a hardened fighter pilot throughout the book. 

I think what made give this book a three out of five despite my praises wasn't a big deal, but it really did affect how I read. From the start, there was a lot of names introduced and characters that didn't really have any sort of purpose, and there was also the slow pacing which made me read this for a far longer time than I expected to. Despite that, however, I really do think this was an amazing book that history junkies (like myself!!) will enjoy.
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I love the premise of this title. I love that it is set in Russia and that there is a foreword explaining names and what they mean. Such a point of difference in todays flooded market.

The writing may have been a little young for me, that being said, this book is perfect for the high-school aged student (13-16).
The writing style made sure that each event flowed and that there were no choppy changeovers.
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