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Traitor

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The book wasn't what I was expecting it to be. I found myself intrigued enough to keep reading but underwhelmed with the plot. I attribute this to the book being rated for YA. I've read quite a few adult fantasies as of late and I had a harder time switching back to YA books. I think this book is absolutely perfect for YA readers. Easy to read and understand, plot is simple enough to follow. Unfortunately, I wanted higher stakes.
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"We’ve all got our own little wars."

In 1944 Poland WWII may be nearing its end, but the troubles are just beginning for some of the country's long suffering residents. In the wake of Lwów's liberation from Germany, the city--like the rest of Poland--is torn between loyalists to either Poland or Ukraine as their years long power struggle continues and threatens to tear the country apart.

Seventeen-year-old Tolya Korolenko is half-Ukrainian, half-Polish and wanted by neither side. Hungry and alone, he has become a sniper in the Soviet Red Army to try to survive. It's a good plan until he shoots his unit's political officer in a dark alley. Tolya knows what happens to traitors. He knows what to expect.

What surprises him is his unlikely rescue by Ukrainian freedom fighters. In Poland everyone is fighting their own little wars and soon Tolya finds himself dragged into Solovey's. Helping the man who rescued him probably won't save Tolya's life. But it might buy him some time.

In a city where self-preservation and loyalty can't always mean the same thing, Tolya and Solovey are both rocked by betrayals that will change everything in Traitor (2020) by Amanda McCrina.

Find it on Bookshop.

The story follows two storylines: Tolya's as it unfolds in 1944 and Aleksey's years earlier in 1941. How you feel about the story may depend on how quickly you begin piecing together the connections between these two timelines.

Contrasting the beginning and end of World War II, Traitor explores the things that remain the same as characters are driven to desperate choices both for survival and revenge. Tense prose and cliffhanging chapter endings make this novel a fast read although alternating parts between Tolya and Aleksey often cuts much the tension and--given the fact that Aleksey's story is essentially a flashback--lends a certain inevitability to what should be suspenseful plot points.

Traitor effectively uses restricted perspective in both narratives to limit what the characters and readers know leading to reveals that sometimes expected and sometimes not. Unfortunately, it also keeps both of the novel's main characters at a remove from readers making it hard to feel entirely invested in either narrative.

Traitor is a well-researched and suspenseful look at a rarely examined piece of history. Readers who enjoy their history with a large dose of suspense and an unflinching look at the violence of war will find the most to appreciate here.

Possible Pairings: Tamar by Mal Peet, Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*
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Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Traitor: A Novel of World War II

Author: Amanda McCrina

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 2/5

Recommended For...: historical fiction, war novels

Publication Date: August 25, 2020

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Recommended Age: can’t recommend, dnf-ed

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Pages: 368

Synopsis: Poland, 1944. After the Soviet liberation of Lwów from Germany, the city remains a battleground between resistance fighters and insurgent armies, its loyalties torn between Poland and Ukraine. Seventeen-year-old Tolya Korolenko is half Ukrainian, half Polish, and he joined the Soviet Red Army to keep himself alive and fed. When he not-quite-accidentally shoots his unit's political officer in the street, he's rescued by a squad of Ukrainian freedom fighters. They might have saved him, but Tolya doesn't trust them. He especially doesn't trust Solovey, the squad's war-scarred young leader, who has plenty of secrets of his own.

Then a betrayal sends them both on the run. And in a city where loyalty comes second to self-preservation, a traitor can be an enemy or a savior—or sometimes both.

Review: Overall, this was a good book but I had to DNF it at 34%. The book was action packed and could be a great read. The book is also very historical, but there were so many characters that didn’t seem to be important to the plot at all and the descriptions really made the slow pacing feel much slower. The book also confused me a bit while reading it.

Verdict: Not for me, but maybe for you!
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Ukraine, 1944. Tolya Korolenko kills someone by accident. Afterwards he moves along the streets of Lwow city with his gun. We get to know the names of the streets, but we don’t get a feel of who Tolya is, besides being half Polish and half Ukrainian.

The point of the story is to shed light on the complex history of Lwow, which was in the hands of different nations and its history is probably unknown to most of the people outside Eastern Europe. The shifting powers meant you had to be careful who you associated yourself with.

What attracted me to this story was Lwow. I wanted to better understand its history. But the problem with this story is execution. Very dry style of writing. It’s like reading a non-fiction injected with a lot of dialogue at some parts. There is lack of character development. It’s just historical facts and fight for survival, lacking a character that would lead a reader through this tumultuous part of history.

The history of Lwow is so complex that trying to put all those names and what they stand for or for whom, or who is against whom, is very overwhelming.

For me, the most grasping stories start with an interesting character and then injection of history, once you’re attached to the character. Stories that start with an action scene, like in this story, and bombardment of names that most of the English speaking people won’t be able to pronounce is not something I connect with. I need character development first.
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This story focuses on Poland and its struggles with the Soviet Union and Germany and much more. We follow two teens who are running for their lives.  It was a different WW2 novel in the fact that we follow more of the fighting among young soldiers and factions but also see a lot of the struggles civilians.

At times it was very confusing going between 2 POV because their experiences were very similar. Their stories were also 3 years apart so it was difficult to find the connections and why there were 2 POV.

I liked the story and I liked the experiences but I spent too much time figuring out which characters were important and which side they were on. I felt the characters needed to be going through very different experiences for me to tell them apart. Because they were both teens, boys and running from soldiers, it felt too similar.

Overall a great story. It felt more like adult historical fiction than YA. Some of the violence was pretty intense.

Thank you to NetGalley and MacMillan Children's Publishing Group for the copy in exchange for an honest review.  This book is out August 25, 2020.
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I really enjoyed this book.  I learned new history that I didn't know and I think that many would be interested in this. This was a thrill ride from start to finish.
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My favorite kind of historical fiction books are the ones that take a small piece of largely unknown (to me) history and blow them up in a way that makes them unforgettable. I am sorely lacking in my knowledge of eastern European pre-WW2 leading into WW2 history, and this book made me feel like I was right there, fighting alongside these two young men. 

One thing I loved about this novel was the way the narrative was told. Tolya, a half-Polish/half-Ukranian 17-year-old is fighting for his life while keeping his Polish heritage a secret upon pain of death. His story is told in the third person, and is set in 1944, while juxtaposed against Aleksey’s in 1941, told in the first person. After Tolya shoots an important officer, he is rescued by Aleksey’s insurgent forces and their stories intertwine. 

I loved the twisty plot, the complex and realistic characters, and the straightforward storytelling. This will be an excellent addition to any historical fiction collection, and will be especially great for those interested in reading male YA historical fiction. There is action, some torture, and gore, but all of it felt realistic within the realm of this novel. I will definitely be endorsing this book to teens in my community.
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Told from alternating view points, Amanda McCrina takes readers inside the lives of two young men trying to survive World War II in the city of Lwów.  For Tolya who is half Ukranian and half Polish, each day he spends as a conscript in the Soviet army is a risk.  He lives his life doing what he must to survive until one day in a moment of valor he shoots a superior office in the street to save a young woman from assault.  When he’s saved by Ukrainian Freedom Fighters, Tolya knows their leader, Solovey, will only keep him alive as long as he is useful.  Solovey past and present is anything but straightforward though and when their group is betrayed the two have no choice but to trust one another as they flee for their lives.   

VERDICT is that this is a very compelling piece of historical fiction about a time and place during World War II that is overlooked in American history books at the very least.  I was fascinated and horrified by this heartbreaking story.  The back and forth narration taking place along different timelines was a little confusing at first, but ultimately very successful once I figured out all the characters and their places within each others story.  There was so much to take in I almost felt as though each character could have had their own novel.  I really appreciated the structure of this book with the historical note at the beginning, list of military and paramilitary forces at the end, and author’s note.  These were all extremely useful in providing context for a reader like myself who really didn’t know anything in-depth about the conflict between the Ukrainians and Poles during World War II and how this was exacerbated by the German and Soviet armies.  I think this is a novel that will inspire readers to want to learn more about the history of World War II in its entirety.
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This book is told through two perspectives at different times in World War II. We have the perspectives of Aleksey and Tolya in Poland and how a betrayal puts both of them in danger and sends them running. I enjoyed that this book was written about a part of WW2 that isn't as well known, or written about. There was obviously a lot of research done, which I appreciate as a history nerd. But, this book fell a bit flat for me. It was a quick read (I finished it in 2 days), but I feel like I just wanted a little more. Maybe an epilogue would have helped? And the alternate perspectives and timelines could get muddled at times. Overall, I liked the book. I just felt like it needed a little more. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-ARC of this book!
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Traitor is a historical fiction novel is about towns that change occupation like the season. It's a book that examines truth and loyalty like the truly subjective concept they are. It always matters who is the one asking, who is the one who was able to (re)write history. To decide who are the traitors, the rebels, and the loyal ones. It's also a book that examines the grey spaces between obedience and rebellion. In collaboration, survival, and sacrifice.

But what really lost me was the structure of the book. I mentioned it's dual POV, which normally wouldn't be a problem, except there's both a time jump between each POV AND the two characters end up interacting. From a writing perspective, I appreciate being able to witness the ways these actions changed the main character, while also witnessing the actions first hand. However, this was incredibly confusing at the beginning and I didn't really even fully sort it out until around 50% through.
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Traitor reminds me of my arts & crafts drawer.  Specifically, Traitor reminds me of the knotted mass of thread and yarn and various crafting materials that has formed into an unusable tumbleweed at the bottom of my arts & crafts drawer.  Could you unknot the materials and turn them into something useful again?  Possibly.  Is the effort involved worthwhile?  Most likely not.  

Traitor is generally a historical fiction story that takes place during World War II and centers around the various armies and spy camps and Resistances that were happening at that time.  The story follows two main POVs during the years 1941 and 1944.  

Traitor is a conglomeration of ideas, history, characterization, and plot that when unentangled are interesting.  But all tied up together?  Pretty much a mess.  There were way too many underdeveloped characters, and probably way too many characters in general.  None of the plot twists landed because that would involve understanding the plot in the first place.  It would probably help to be a WWII scholar to understand this story which, as most people are not, doesn't bode well for this story.  This could have been so thrilling and interesting but the history simply wasn't incorporated in a way that's digestible for most people.  

I did enjoy the writing: McCrina's style and tone are great.  I just wish that the plot and characterization were clearer and more developed.  Unfortunately, I can't really recommend reading this one unless you are already very familiar with WWII history, particularly relating to Poland.
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Traitor, by Amanda McCrina, is an engrossing Young Adult novel about World War II and the conflict between Poland and the Ukraine.  Something I knew absolutely nothing about.  McCrina immerses the reader in war-torn Lwow, Poland soon after the Soviets liberated the city from the Germans.  The city is inhabitanted by resistance fighters and occupied by rebel armies - a confusion of loyalties between Poland and the Ukraine.  Tolya Korolenko, is a seventeen yaear-old boy forced to serve in the Soviet Army.  He is half Ukraine and half Polish and has lost his entire family to this war.  When he "accidentally" shoots his commanding officer in the street, to keep him from attacking a young woman, Tolya's loyalties become suspect as well.  Tolya returns to his barracks with the Soviet Army, but the Soviets are suspicious.  At his girlfriend's urging, he quickly escapes, only to be rescued by freedom fighters loyal only to the Ukraine.  He suspects he was rescued only to  be milked for information on the Soviets,  He soon finds himself on the run again, this time with some of the freedom fighters.  Whose loyalties lie where, and who is betraying whom makes for a fast-paced suspenseful read.  

I learned a great deal from reading Traitor.  Middle and High School students will love this.  There is somewhat graphic torture and parts may be emotionally difficult to read.  McCrina doesn't sugarcoat anything, giving us a stark, gritty look at a little known part of history.  This is one that will stay with you for a long while.
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Traitor by Amanda McCrina- This historical fiction novel goes a different direction than most World War II novels; instead on focusing on the well-known German, US, or British conflicts, it focuses on the Polish and Ukrainian aspect of the war. Truthfully, I've never studied this side of the war. The pure hatred these two groups of people had for each other is mind-boggling. When there is a war, some people will use patriotism as an excuse to do the unthinkable. Others rise above the hate and see the human in front of them. The problem is figuring out which is which before it's too late. 
Publish date:Aug 25th, 2020
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This is a historical fiction book I didn't realize I needed. For one, since this book takes place in WWII, I would assume it would be focused on the conflict in Germany, but it doesn't. This book focuses on the lesser known (and by lesser known, I mean I didn't know about this) conflict between Poland and Ukraine, which went on during the war. I like how we see two timelines in this story, beginning of the conflict and the middle of the conflict, from two different perspectives. 

I wouldn't say I liked this book, because it made me really sad and I don't genuinely enjoy war and death. But I did like the way this story was told. It brought light to the issue without taking advantage of the real death and conflict that people faced. It was very respectful of the content as we hear the story from two sides. Though each side is not necessarily for or against what is going on. 

I can appreciate how the material is respectful while also allowing each character to express a different opinion. I think this book was very well written and while sad, brought to light an issue I didn't know much about. I really appreciated the appendix at the end explaining the different terms, characters we met and their connections, as well as the historical significance of these groups. It helped my overall understanding of what was going on. 

Overall, if you like WWII fiction in general, you'll really appreciate this book!
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I've been reading a number of books set during WWII in the past year and this one covered a part of the war that I knew nothing about--Galicia is a region between Ukraine and Poland and had a history of being a disputed region between the two countries. Then came the Germans and then the Russians and suddenly everyone is an enemy. The story moves back and forth between two POV--Tolya is half Ukrainian and half Polish, and he's surrounded by the Germans on one side and the Russians on the other. His story takes place in 1944. His story is narrated in third-person.  The other POV is for Aleksey/Solovey and is narrated in first-person in 1941.  However, his path crosses Tolya's in 1944 and as his 1941 story is revealed, you slowly realize what his motivations may be in 1944. This novel is about a bloody war where even good people do terrible things, and the novel takes you through many twists and turns that keep you guessing about the motivations and actions of various characters. I loved how the author made connections between the various characters and it was very cool how various parallels showed up between the two stories. I occasionally got confused by all the various sides and couldn't always remember who a character was without having to go back and figure it out. I didn't realize until the end that there was a character list, so if you do read this book, it would likely be helpful for you to print out the list ahead of time. This book was very well-researched and I ended up learning a fair bit. The author's note at the end that explained some of the various resistance/military groups in the region in more detail was also interesting. One thing I would l like to mention is that younger or more sensitive readers might be disturbed by some of the violence that was described. I would recommend this for older high school students and above.

Thanks to #NetGalley, #AmandaMcCrina, and #MacmillanChildrensPublishingGroup for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review of the book.

Wasn't sure whether this book was a 3 or a 4 for me. It was somewhere closer to a 3.5, and as I generally round up, I've gone with a four star rating. Mostly solid storytelling, although because I have had so much work going on this summer, I was forced to read this book piecemeal. Unfortunately, this doesn't quite work for a book that toggles back and forth between two different young men living in two different periods of World War II, 1941 and 1944. In addition, part of the point of the story is the discombobulation of the kaleidoscopic, constantly shifting loyalties and sides the two protagonists were involved with, but the net effect, for me, at least, was to feel somewhat disengaged with the events and the characters. Having said all that, I did enjoy the book, and felt I learned a lot about WWII that I didn't know about, helped by the list of characters at the end and the summary of the conflicting, competing, overlapping tides of history that characterized the war in Poland/Ukraine.
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I gave up at 25% because of the lack of engagement with the story. I didn't like the switching narrations and time periods. I wanted to know what was currently happening, not learning of an event in the past. Lots of books centered around WWII have a past and present story, and I believe that trend has ran its course. When I'm reading at book about a topic, I want it to solely be on the topic and not another character in the past or future and their problems.
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Interesting read. I felt like I was just dropped into the war for a period of time, experiencing it along with the characters.  The ending threw me. I was expecting some sort of closure, but it just ended. That left me with lots of questions, but as I think about it, the ending is perfect. I popped into the book and then got kicked out at the end.
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Thank you to NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
This historical fiction book examines a part of World War II that many may find unfamiliar. The story centers on Tolya, a 17-year-old half-Polish, half-Ukrainian orphan trying to survive by joining the Red Army. Most of the events take place in L’viv, or Lwow, depending on the country. The narration alternates between Tolya in 1944 and Aleksey in 1941. This is one of the areas where I became confused – the dates are the same or close together but 3 years apart. Tolya is a trained sniper and is taken by the UPA for a mission. There are several groups to keep track of here – the UPA, NKVD, Red Army, Nachtigallen, Polish Resistance, and I’m probably forgetting some. Between the jumping timelines, the rival factions, and the large number of characters, I found it difficult to keep track of what was happening. I liked the main plot but it was confusing for me. 
I would rate this as 3.5 stars. Recommended for eighth grade and up who enjoy WWII stories.
#Traitor #NetGalley
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Traitor by Amanda McCrina Reviewed on July 26, 2020 2.5 rounded up 
I really am not a WWII fan but I loved " Lilac Girls" (Historical Fiction) that provided an inside as to what happened to the Polish women in early 1941. The holocaust was such a horrible time; I really don't like to read about it. I was interested in this story as it is written for a YA audience. 

There is no doubt that this novel will find readers who will like it especially those who like military stories. 

I did like reading the author’s notes as there is no doubt she did a lot of research and she goes into detail regarding her research which was needed in this story.

Want to thank NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for this early release granted to me in exchange for an honest professional review.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. 
Publishing Release Date scheduled for August 25, 2020
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