Cover Image: Traitor

Traitor

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Member Reviews

Who can you trust? This book does a great job of sucking the reader in, and immersing the reader in history. A truly poignant book, that is especially relatable today.
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Anatoliy “Tolya” Korolenko is a 17-year-old half-Polish, half-Ukrainian orphan, When he rashly shoots an officer of the Soviet Red Army, he find himself on the run with Solovey, a fellow freedom fighter. When someone in the squad betrays them, a subsequent complex plot of double-crosses and alliances comes to life. The non-linear plot does cause some confusion over who is fighting who, but the characters are likable, complex, and engaging. The plot is action-packed and draws the reader into the story. Fans of World War II stories, historical fiction, and history will want to pick this one up.
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DNF - I started reading this book, but I didn’t get very far. I am not very interested in historical books, so I read them sparingly and I just couldn’t get into this one. I am sure the book is good, it just isn’t the genre for me.
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This is a very compelling book. I flew through it in two days, which is something I've been incapable of doing for most of 2021. I just had to read the last 200 pages in one go because I needed to know where things were going. The chapters are short, too, which really helped me.

I was in love with the concept of this book from the moment it was announced. A lot of WWII books focus on the same few aspects, but this was something different, looking more at the Ukranian/Polish conflict happening within the war as a whole. However, somehow it didn't click with me that both the main characters were guys and that most of the prominent characters would be guys. There's nothing wrong with writing a story about cis men, but I'm not particularly interested in reading about cis men, so that was jarring. About half way through the book, I realized that all of the women and girls in the book were making very brief appearances, then getting killed off. By the end of the book, this is somewhat rectified, but it was still deeply unpleasant. 

The book was also told in two different points of view in two different times and places, but there were overlapping characters. This makes for a really cool idea, seeing how these timelines merge and it makes a wonderful commentary on the impacts of war and how conflicts shift, but it also made things a bit confusing. I thought maybe it was just me, forgetting names and exactly how people played into different aspects of the story, but for how quickly I read the book, I shouldn't have been losing those details. And as I reflected further, I realized that a lot of the characters were really shallow. There wasn't much personality or backstory for a lot of them, so they all sounded the same - even the narrators did, to an extent. Additionally, many characters were around for very short periods of time, so there were a lot of names and a lot of different factions and keeping track of all of them was overwhelming at times. It also meant that when tragic things happen, as they do in a war, the emotional impact was missing. I was still able to follow along and make the connections, but several times I had to flip back to make sure I wasn't imagining having seen that name before.

None of this to say it was a bad book. I enjoyed it (for what it was, I guess - I was looking for a sad historical and this fit) and I'm very intrigued to check out McCrina's next book (yes I double checked to make sure it wasn't about cis dudes). I loved that it looked at an aspect of WWII that's often skimmed over and I'll definitely be looking into some of the books she mentioned using for research. I was also quite pleased with some of the endings for some of the characters. But I needed more depth and more characters who weren't cis men.
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I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

This was a really interesting historical fiction with thriller elements thrown in. It was definitely a fast paced and easy read, it kept me turning the pages, and I was intrigued by the overall plot. It was a very intricate book and a few of the twists got me. You can feel the author’s passion for history, and the amount of research that she did is absolutely evident.

That being said, I did find it a smidge difficult to keep track of the characters, their loyalties and the shifting POVs. The book follows two different characters at two different points in history. While an interesting concept, it was executed in a way that made things more complicated to track than they needed to be. There were also a fair number of side characters all with differently loyalties, and there was so much betrayal that I did find myself having to reread a few passages to make sure that I was keeping up with everything.
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Traitor is an engrossing WWII tale like I've never read before.  My own grandfather fought for Poland during WWII and having a book that shows the Polish and Ukrainian sides of the war was incredibly meaningful. I honestly learned historical events that I never knew. McCrina really told a beautiful gut-wrenching tale about a seventeen-year-old named, Toyla who is forced to fight in the war leading to a series of action-packed events creating a book I could not put down. After I finished this book, I had to double-check that I was in fact reading historical fiction, because McCrina did such an amazing job bringing this time in history to life.
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I was excited to read this book, as it promised a unique historical perspective. However, I struggled with the dual perspective and the characters overall. I was unable to connect with them, and I felt the voices were very similar, so I was unsure why the book opted for 2 perspectives instead of one. I thought the pacing of the book was excellent, and the book was well-researched. I'm sure some people will love this book, perhaps those who are more drawn to historical nonfiction, as that is what it felt like at times. It was a well written book, but it simply wasn't for me.
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I was so looking forward to reading this book but, this after reading it I realized this book was not for me.  The story goes back and forth between two different young men, Tolya and Solovey during two different periods of WWII which are 1941 and 1944.  I was lost at times trying to figure out what was going on because  everyone is betraying each other.  I wish the book just focus on Tolya as adding the story of Solovey just added to the confusion.  I did not grow to feel anything for the characters in this book .The thing I did like about the book was that the author did her research which impressed me.  

Like I said this book was just not for me but, I am sure someone would enjoy it.  I wouldn't recommend to my friends to read but the decision in the end is up to you.
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What's great about this is that it's about a completely different part of the war, and one that doesn't get much page time. I think the writing is a little dry (almost narrative nonfiction like) but it's a very deep book with lots of details.
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Thank you to NetGalley, Farrar, Straus and Giroux , & Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review this book before it's publication date! This in no way affected my review, opinions are my own.

Traitor is a interesting mix of thriller & historical fiction, both dual POV and somewhat dual timeline (flashbacks for one of the timelines), covering a little discussed period of history in Lwów, Poland - which would become Lviv, part of the USSR and then Ukraine following many skirmishes and much bloodshed.

The characterization is absolutely stand-out in this novel and, for me, what anchored the entire plot. The plot itself is fairly dense, expecting a level of knowledge that many people (myself included) might not necessarily have. (There is a very useful historical note and pronunciation guide in the back that would be handy to reference as you read.)

This one is definitely very grim and it stays with you for long after finishing, but I'm glad I read it.

Content Warnings: From Author: Graphic wartime violence, including on-page depictions of suicide (Chapter 20) and torture (Chapters 21-23); anti-Polonism, anti-Ukrainianism, and anti-Semitism, including ethnic slurs; brief references to child abuse; alcohol and drug use; strong language. There is no explicit sexual content but there are some very brief references to rape (not depicted on-page).
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The subject matter of this book is really interesting and I was excited to see another perspective on WWII. That said, because I was so unfamiliar with the Poland and Ukraine portion of the war, it took me a while to become oriented in the book. I think this is because the writing style felt more nonfiction than fiction -- though it would be a very well done narrative nonfiction book if that had been the aim. I enjoyed parts of it, but I just don't think it was for me!
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While this entertaining enough and moves quite fast, the plot itself lacks depth and the characters don't engender any real emotional investment. The dual POV is muddled; the writing is dry and direct. Easy to finish but doesn’t make much of an impact on the reader or the genre; not for me. Meh.
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This book is getting three stars from me because:
1. It is a rarely-written about part of World War 2 history, and
2. I can tell the author did her research, and that the subject matter was important to her.
If not for those two things, I would have rated it lower. The book is aptly named, because everyone is betraying everyone, which makes it very hard to follow. The history itself is complicated, but the writing of the story did not make it that much clearer. Even if the author’s note had been in the front of the book (or if I had read it first), it still would have only lent a little background to what was going on.

I read an interview with the author, in which she stated the story was mainly Tolya’s. But there are two different time periods, and two different characters that the story follows. If the book was supposed to be mainly Tolya’s story, half of it should not have been the background of Solovey and what he experienced before meeting Tolya. Another issue is that the novel is in third person. With an already complicated narrative, it would have helped to be in Tolya’s head and perspective in order to cement the reader in the action.

The upshot is Tolya is half-Polish, half-Ukrainian, and during this time period, that sucks for him because the Polish hate the Ukrainians, the Ukrainians hate the Polish, the Germans hate the Polish, and the Soviets hate everybody. At least, that is what I was able to gather through the course of the entire novel.
Tolya lives in an area that is constantly passed back and forth between Soviet and German hands, and the Ukrainian nationalist movement and Polish resistance are at odds with each other and with whoever is in power at any given time. Confused yet?? Furthermore, the Ukrainian nationalist movement is really only fighting for itself, but partnered with the Germans at first against the Soviets.

All that to say, Tolya is stuck in this world, between all these worlds and all the hate and all the machinations.

There are also a lot of characters, which with the afore-mentioned ethnicities and political parties, made it hard to remember whose side people were on, and the betrayals didn’t help matters.

I even had a hard time keeping the backstories of Tolya and Solovey straight. If you do choose to pick up this book, I highly suggest making use of the List of Military and Paramilitary Forces and the Character List, which are in the back of the book. I might even say that taking notes would help, but who has time for that??

I really appreciate that you can feel the author’s passion for this history, but I wish it had been made more accessible to the reader. And, if we as readers had been inside Tolya’s head, I think I would have connected with the story more.
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This action packed novel does a great job of introducing readers to the complex and often untold history of the many clashing resistance groups, partisans, militaries, and civilians, all struggling for control of this region at the end of world war II. The story is told from dual perspectives and jumps between two different timelines, and while this keeps the intensity rising, it can be difficult to keep track of all the names and information between the shifting stories. 

It was interesting to see the moral ambiguity of the main characters, and I think this book would be a great conversation starter about how people with only bad options make decisions and what actions we can justify in the name of survival. This book is a good pick for readers interested in complex histories and learning about the impact of war, but between the complexity, depictions of violence, and weighty subject matter, I think more mature YA readers will get the most out of it.

Thank you to Macmillan and Netgalley for an advance copy of this Ebook.
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This book was a little hard for me to get into right from the start mainly because the names were so unfamiliar but it didn't take long for me to not want to put it down. I have a lot of kids that will love this book and I am excited to add it to the library.
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This book was not for me, so I did not finish it.  
It might be a case of "it's not you, it's me," though!  
Thanks for the opportunity to preview the title.
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I really wanted to like this book. I love reading historical books but it was in dual perspective and that just confused me to no end. I couldn't keep track of who was where and if so and so was there or over there.
I just would have preferred one POV or something just a big different to make the distinction between characterws.
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Told through two different characters, Tolya and Aleksey three years apart, this story about two young men who learn that a traitor can be an enemy and a savior and sometimes both.
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This was a historical YA novel that I was greatly looking forward to. It had all the elements to make it a banger - young adult, World War 2, traitorous undertones, what more could you want? Unfortunately this fell south of flat for me - I could not make it past 30% of the book. It starts out with 17-year old Tolya, a half-Ukranian half-Polish boy caught up in the war. Events happen that give him the status of "traitor" and he and his rescuers end up on the run. The writing felt uninspired for me; the character perspective did not have a whole lot going on in terms of engagement and interest or plot/character development. But then, it SWITCHED perspectives to someone else and from a different point of view. It's hard enough to do this when there are good things happening in a book, and this just didn't work for me in this book at all. 

Perhaps this is one of those books that works best for WWII enthusiasts and those more attuned to the young adult age, rather than just any YA-interested person, but for me, this was not a great story, mainly because I felt the story and character development fell flat.
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It took me a little while to get into this book, but I found it to be engaging and worthwhile.  I think this will be a great addition to our (high school) library. We have a lot of readers who enjoy WWII historical fiction, especially those who take our Holocaust history class. 
Thanks for the galley! Our physical copy arrived in the library last week from Follett and I am excited to book talk it for our classes.
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