Cover Image: Traitor

Traitor

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Member Reviews

The book Traitor by Amanda McCrina is centered around the Polish, Ukranian and German political conflict of 1944. In this book, Tolya Korolenko, half Polish, half Ukranian, shoots an officer in his unit and is “rescued” by a squad of freedom fighters. Their leader, Solovey, has his own secrets, and Tolya is challenged with determining who to trust. There are some blatantly bad people in this book. Then, you have people who do bad things, but their reasons are complicated. The question of what exactly makes a traitor is addressed throughout, but the real betrayers stand out. Throughout the book, Toyla and Solovey’s stories are told in alternating perspectives, with each of their sections giving insights into who they are and how their paths both mirror each other and ultimately come to meet. At times, it seems like no one they encounter can be trusted, and sometimes you wonder if they are even trustworthy themselves. As the conflicts surrounding them become more and more dangerous, allies are important - trusting the wrong person can be deadly. 

This story doesn’t stray from presenting these events as accurately and descriptively as possible. The events are bloody, painful, and deadly. The author does not shy away from describing physical and mental pain, and you can feel the anguish these characters experience. In terms of subject matter, this was sometimes a hard read. I became emotional several times, and connected with these characters in such a way that I was very invested in both of their stories. I had to put the book down a few times and come back to it later, as I needed time to deal with some things that happened. I never put it down for long, however. This story drew me in, right from the beginning. While it appears lengthy, and the subject heavy, it was relatively easy to read, engagement-wise. The events move rapidly, moving you through the story at a good pace. Everything along the way makes sense as you read, even if you’re struggling to figure out character motivations through most of the book. 

I didn’t know what to think when I began reading this book. By the end, I didn’t want it to be over. I did want more clarification at the end of the story, as I feel that Tolya’s journey in particular just needed something - if not closure, than something closer to it. That is the only criticism I have of this book - I wanted more. I highly recommend this read to anyone, but especially those with an interest in history, this particular conflict, or just those looking for a book that will allow you to immerse yourself in the characters and events described here. 

This was an incredible read.
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I felt for all the characters and more than once was thrown for a loop by this book. I really enjoyed it and would recommend for anyone who loves history and incredibly daring stories.
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This was a brutal read. Be sure to check the content warnings before you pick it up!

That said, it is masterfully done historical fiction. The uncertainties and tensions between Poland, the Ukraine, Russia and Germany are conveyed in a manner that keeps you guessing who you can trust, or if you can trust anyone. The over all story switches through time between a third person POV from Tolya, and a first person POV from Aleksey. Each story mirrors the other down to the "buttery leather" shoes on the characters feet. The technical details of weapons and firefights will capture readers with those interests. A longer book, but the tension and generous amounts of snappy dialogue keep the pace moving right along.

A glossary / pronunciation guide to the Polish and Ukranian words would have been a helpful addition to the back matter.

A hard sell to the general public, but readers with an interest in WWII, and this particular conflict will get a lot out of this book.
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