Cover Image: Traitor

Traitor

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Member Reviews

First and foremost I would like to thank the publisher for an advanced copy for me to read and review. This in no way impacts my review as all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Traitor by Amanda McCrina is a YA historical fiction, and to be honest, I wasn't quite sure what I was getting myself into. I haven't read many historical fiction pieces but this one intrigued me. I don't want to say too much as all my thoughts seem to be spoilery!

To start, I think the title of this book is perfect for the story. We have a situation where two characters are not supposed to be interacting yet we find them in impossible situations. I love the morally grey aspect of them, I think they are well rounded and developed with a lot of depth. I do think the level of tragedy in the characters back stories provide that depth needed to really connect and feel for them.

Surprisingly, there are twists and turns in this book - and I don't think that the twists are just for show. I think that it helps develop the story and again, help us connect to these characters as this seems to be a very character driven book. I felt that the dual POV was believable and necessary for this novel, I think the dialogue between characters was essential, and the ending... erg... ha!

I think that if you like historical fiction, the idea of two people not meant to cross paths doing so, and knowing what the others are thinking, as well as plot points revolving around family... then this book will be for you! I do feel that having a background knowledge of this era  (WWII) will help you immensely. There are author notes to help you along the way!
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This is a very heavy WWII novel that takes place in Eastern Europe where the boundaries between Poland and Ukraine have been continually fought over. Marriage between people from Poland and Ukraine is considered traitorous. The plot was complicated and at times confusing. Tolya is a sniper in the Russian army in 1944 when he shoots his political officer who was assaulting a young woman. He is rescued by the Polish Resistance because they want him to assassinate a Russian officer. In 1941 Aleksey is a Ukrainian trying to break his father out of a Polish prison before the Germans arrive. Through the masterful storytelling, I quickly came to realize just how complicated that region was. I kept asking myself who was trustworthy. Were there any “good guys?” The many characters, dual storylines, and political/prejudicial tensions kept me reading long into the night. When I recommend this book to fans of WWII historical fiction (adults and teens alike), I will encourage them to read up on the area’s history during WWII. I wish I had. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this arc in exchange for an honest review.
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I just couldn't get engaged with this book, and I think it's beyond the level of my students. My review is more a reflection of it's suitability for my audience. If I thought otherwise, I would have read further. A few chapters is all I can give a book I know I won't buy.
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On the plus side, I cared a lot about the main characters (and several others). However, I found the plot very confusing and difficult to follow. Not only were there many different groups involved (I realize that that's historically accurate), but it was often not clear (even to some of the characters, both regarding themselves and regarding others) which group a character belonged to. I should add that I studied Russian history in college, so I was somewhat familiar with this period.
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War is not clean and neat, and McCrina’s Traitor masterfully portrays the emotional and ethical wreckage it causes. The two-pronged storyline begins with Tolya, in July 1944. A young soldier in the Soviet army during World War II, Tolya keeps his head down. With his Ukranian father executed as a traitor, and his mother shot for being Polish, his loyalties do not lie with the Soviets, but he enlisted because he was alone and hungry. When he shoots his unit’s political officer during an assault on a young woman. It’s only a matter of time until the NKVD, the Soviet Secret Police, arrest and shoot him. However, when he is whisked away, it turns out to be an extraction by the Ukranian Insurgent Army, who are looking for a sniper to assassinate a high ranking Soviet officer. The alternate plot line begins in June 1941, following young Ukranian Aleksey who is attempting to break  his Ukranian nationalist hero father out of a Russian controlled Polish prison prior to the arrival of German troops. As life deteriorates in the Polish city, an injured Aleksey and his brother, Mykola, find themselves in the care of the Polish Resistance. Both plotlines highlight the confusing disintegration of loyalties as the Germans advance into Russian territory. While the Russians had allied themselves with the Polish resistance earlier in the war, now they are actively hunting and killing them. Astute readers may pick up on the connection between the two plotlines early in the book; most will unravel it deeper into the story, hindered by the profusion of characters with unfamiliar names.  But the ultimate moral of the story is that there are no winners in war. Readers’ hearts will ache for the profound loneliness of both Tolya and Aleksey, as they cannot bring themselves to trust anyone. Ultimately, it seems, everyone’s goal is to just survive. A character list and an outline of military units at the end of the book are extremely useful to readers in keeping the complex stories organized. THOUGHTS: This outstanding historical fiction story highlights a lesser known corridor of World War II. The era is presented in deeply humanistic terms, highlighting the psychological toll war causes on those caught up against their will. It can be a challenging read with dozens of characters and multiple factions to keep straight, but the reward is magnificent. Hand this stunning book to Alan Gratz fans who are ready for something more mature.  Historical Fiction
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*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.*

 I have mixed feelings. I loved this book, don't get me wrong... But it was pretty confusing. I don't think it's the book's fault. I blame my education for not making me more familiar with groups like the UPA and the tension between Ukrainians and Poles during WWII. Somehow I slipped through my WWII education with a deep understanding of Germany's groups and politics, a marginal understanding of Russia's, but very little information on this front of the war.

 And that's why books like this are important. They uncover pieces of history that are vitally important but little spoken of.

 The danger, tension, and principles in this story had me riveted. It's been awhile since I read at the breakfast table, but I had to know more about Tolya and Aleksey. I had to know if they'd live, if their efforts would pay off, if they'd ever find peace. Unfortunately I can't tell you how it ended, but I can say this book doesn't have a clean plot graph. 

 And maybe it shouldn't.

TW: torture, graphic wounds, all the usual horrors of war
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During World War II, the territory in Eastern Europe known as Galicia was the scene of fierce, bloody fighting. Even before the war, there had been fighting between the Ukrainian and Polish people living in that part of Eastern Europe. These conflicts were ignited again in addition to the battles being fought against the German army and the Russian army as both forces fought for control of the area as well.

Against this backdrop, Amanda McCrina’s novel about two young men who are caught up in the fighting, provides a close up view of the uncertain loyalties, devastation, hardship, and brutality that were part of everyday life. There is a real sense of place with characters whose lives become entwined. It’s a story of survival, loyalty, and betrayal that is hard to put down. 

At times, it is confusing as the timeline alternates between 1941 and 1944. But despite that, it’s a look at a little known part of World War II history that is well worth reading.

Thank you to NetGalley, Farrar Straus Giroux Publishers and author Amanda McCrine for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of this very interesting story.
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This book was complicated and sometimes difficult but interesting and hard to put down. Through the two protagonists and their timelines we learn about the many factions fighting for control in Poland during World War II and the many people caught in the painful position of choosing a side (and knowing that side would turn on you when you were no longer useful).  The author obviously is very well versed in the time period and intentional in presenting a full picture. I look forward to reading more of her works in the future.
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I love a good historical fiction book and when I read the synopsis for this I knew i would love it! 
This book was full of so many twists and turns and I fell in love with the characters. 
This was one of those books I couldn't and didn't put down until I was done with it. Lol.
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Probably 30% of the way through Traitor I had to stop and do some research on World War II and the roles of Ukraine, Poland, and Russia. Once I had more background knowledge, I started the book over again. The novel is amazing. The story is beautifully written, so descriptive with wonderful characters. It was a heart wrenching experience as good war stories often are. I recommend this book and this talented author.
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Thank you for providing me the opportunity to read this book! I first heard about it from a panel discussion at BookCon, and hearing the author talk about it definitely piqued my interest. Overall, I really liked it, and I think it gives an important perspective on WWII that many people don't know about. I certainly didn't know anything about what was going on with Poland and Ukraine during and after WWII, and I imagine most young adults haven't learned about it either. 

The story itself is incredibly action-packed, and it is sometimes a bit difficult to keep track of who is who and which side people are on, which is actually not a bad thing, since it seems that what the author is trying to do is to show just how muddy the distinctions were. Almost every character is a traitor in some way, which makes the book incredibly interesting, since there are no particular "good guys" and "bad guys." The one thing the author did that I'm not totally sure worked for me was switching perspectives between Tolya and Aleksey. I liked learning about Aleksey's backstory, and ultimately learning how the various characters from both parts of the story fit together, but I didn't love the way that Tolya's narrative kept getting interrupted. Both perspectives were well done; I'm just not sure they fit together as seamlessly as I would have liked. 

Overall, a great book, and I would definitely recommend it to young adults and adults, too!
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Traitors is a book categorized for young readers. I found its content violent and unappealing. It jumps back and forth between the two main characters and I found it difficult to keep up with what was gong on. More information on the context of what was actually going on would have been helpful as well as better background on the characters. Young readers may be able to grasp what is going on or may like the violence. I did not. 
Thanks #NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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This story takes place during the Soviet liberation of a town in Poland that had just been in German hands.  The story of a boy half polish half Ukraine, a mix that is the most undesired at his point.  But Tolya does what he must to stay safe and feed.  Until the day comes that changes everything and sends Toyla on the run, not sure who he can trust if anyone.

This is a powerful book about a place you don't hear much about when World War II is talked about.  The children left behind when parents are imprisoned or killed.  Most of the children are smart enough to know who they can trust but some have no one and must do what they can to survive.  The history in this book is awesome and the characters are perfect, this is a book you will not want to miss, non stop action and suspense that will have you holding on to your chair, so be careful.  I hope the author does more books like this as it was such a good book and I hope you all will like it as much as I do.

This will appear on my blog on Aug 25th.
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Will post this review to Goodreads on July 26.

Tolya and Aleksey—two passionate young men trying to fight for their beliefs in an ever changing world. Set during WWII, these two narrators from Amanda McCrina’s Traitor both share their pasts and presents as they try to survive the conflicts between communists, Germans, Ukrainians, and Poles.

I loved that McCrina opens up this world and these moments of history to her readers. When we learn about WWII, we spend so much time—rightly so—on the Holocaust that it’s easy to forget that the effects of war are far reaching and traumatizing to many, and that there is more than one story to be told. For me, someone that knows little about Ukrainians, Poles, and the horrific fights between them, I did find myself lost a few times. However, I think that had more to do with my lack of historical knowledge in this area and less to do with McCrina’s craft. The storytelling alternates between Tolya’s and Aleksey’s perspectives and does an amazing job of showing the facets and intricacies of these situations.

For readers looking for a war story that focuses on the moral question of why, I think this is an intriguing read. If you’re looking for something light, this may not be for you.
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Wow! Just wow! This book is astonishing! If you think there is nothing new to learn about World War II, it will definitely prove you wrong! The writing is lovely - clean and simple, but with spot on descriptions that involve all the senses. The plot is truly gripping and compelling. And the characters! I loved so many of them - and I really loved that (with maybe one exception), they were drawn in shades of grey. Even the most evil people had a tiny moment - a millisecond - of grace. Which did not, by any means, make their actions seem less evil - quite the opposite, in fact. But I felt that Ms. McCrina envisioned her entire cast of characters as complete human beings, in all their messy complexity, and she managed to convey this to her readers.

The setting is one I knew pretty much nothing about - the action takes place in the city of Lviv, which was then in Poland, and is now in Ukraine. And a great deal of the fighting is between Poles and Ukrainians - the addition of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia only make the long running conflict between these two groups more bitter.

It is hard to write anything at all about the plot without giving major points away, so I will just say that it is quite twisty, and fascinating. The title, "Traitor," describes more than one person, for sure, but isn't a perfect characterization of anyone. 

The structure is fascinating! Two teenage soldiers cross paths, and alternating sections of the book are written from each young man's perspective.

I want to add a caveat. This truly excellent book is really hard to read in places, because of the horrific violence some of the young people see and endure. I think I will be haunted by it for a good while to come. If you know that you, like me, don't do well with violence, I still think you will find it very worthwhile, but be warned that some fairly shocking things happen.

Also, the fate of the Jewish citizens in Poland is certainly alluded to, and described pretty graphically in one scene, but it is not a major concern of any of the characters, so the book does not center on it. So, although it is a novel about WWII Poland/Ukraine, it is not a Holocaust narrative.

Finally, the book is crying out for a sequel! It doesn't end on an awful cliffhanger, but I really wanted to know what would happen next.

In sum: Beautifully written and well worth reading.
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Thank you net galley for the advance reader copy of this novel.   This was a YA novel set in WWII Poland/Ukraine and deals with the many different groups that try to seize power from the polish Resistance, to the UPA, to the NVKD, to the Nazis.   I have not read a novel about this area and time period before and it was so rich in detail and character.    Tolya is a main character and his story and the story of Solovey are told in alternating chapters and timelines.   I really had to train my brain to remember who was with what group when to pull the story together.    The title of the book, traitor, is also the theme of the novel as the characters are forced at different times to be a part of different groups.   Well researched, well written and shines light on what it means to be a traitor.   I loved every single page of this and hope to see more by this author!!!
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The setting is Poland 1944 in and around the city Lwow/Lviv. The story is told in third party narration and is split between  two young men -Tolya and Solovey  as they negotiate their way through a city that is being fought over by Polish resistance fighters, The UPA, and the NVKD. If those initials were foreign to you they were to me as well. Ms. McCrina does an admirable job of trying to convey a very complicated history between the Ukraine, Poland and Russia.
Those individuals who like plenty of action will not be disappointed. Both our characters are frequently in danger and have to navigate their way through some tight situations. There are plenty of close escapes, who can be trusted moments but also quiet moments to punctuate the chaos.  
The true pull of the story for me though was the richly drawn characters of both Tolya and Solovey. It is heartbreaking at times to read about Tolya’s despair at fitting in neither with Poland or the Ukraine due to circumstances of birth he has no control over. Equally heartbreaking is the relationship between Solovey and his brother Myklov. Other supporting characters are also interesting and add depth. This is a book that I thought about even while I was not reading it. I’d love to learn more about that area and fortunately the author gives us some additional sources to peruse.
I do have one quibble with the book and, without being spoilery, and that is the  ending – Ms. mcCrina, how could you?
This is also a book that I think will have appeal to a very specific teen  audience but will have cross over appeal for those adults interested in a different aspect of World War II.
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A compelling YA historical fiction that addresses the terrible choices faced by those who live through war.

One of the things that struck me the most throughout this story is the moral complexity shown in so many of the characters. The author does an excellent job of establishing a story in which there are very few heroes and villains, and mostly people just trying to do their best in the moment. It addresses the heartbreaking decisions faced by those who lived through World War II, and shows compassion as characters stumble through them.

Overall, I think the characters, the dual narration and timeline format, and the research were some of the standouts of this novel. I particularly appreciated the unique perspective the author brought - focusing on a less known part of World War II, as well as characters that aren't the obvious and expected heroes.

I struggled a bit to decipher the various political groups mentioned, and had to do research and read the historical note many times throughout the book. This is not necessarily a criticism, but readers should be prepared to go beyond the page for this book. Also, both plots lines meandered at times and then wrapped up quite suddenly, leaving me feeling as though the last chapters were missing. Again, I think there is power in this because of the questions and confusion so many faced during this time in history, and yet the overall pacing still felt a little off.

All in all a great - and original - addition to the genre. My thanks to Netgalley and McMillan for providing me an e-arc of this book.
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This story really kept me on my feet!  As a reader, I was gravitating towards the characters on their mental and emotional state during their time of survival.  I usually don't go towards historical fiction but the characters, and how important they each were in their own stories was very important and valuable for the rest of the character development.  I really appreciated having a list of characters at the end in case I can revert back to them.  The dialogue made me feel as though I was there and would have asked the same questions while placing humor here and there during some difficult situations.  What I also enjoyed was the switch in character perspective and using different points of view for both and how each character's actions impacted one another without them knowing.  I would really recommend my young adult readers that love their historical fiction for sure.
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Two teens struggle to survive between 1941-1944 during the brutal war around Lvov as partisans battle Russian, German, Ukranian and Polish forces..  The story jumps between time periods and characters and, while compelling, I found it difficult to follow.
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