I’ve been reading a lot during the break! Specifically, it seems, books about war and spies. Reading more of these books is one of my goals for 2018, since I love spy/crime TV shows like NCIS and White Collar, and they don’t disappoint (for the most part). Here are my (mini-)reviews of these novels, ft. my own pictures from bookstagram!
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
One-Sentence Summary: Memoir-turned-fiction that recounts what it feels like to live a life, from a child in small town, heartland America to a twenty-two-year-old soldier drafted to fight in Vietnam to a “normal” writer with a wife and kids and war memories that never left him.
Wow. Just wow. What a powerful book. Many, many people told me I’d love this when I picked it up, but I didn’t realize how incredibly powerful this book would be until I finished it. At first, it seems like disjointed vignettes, but each chapter joins together and interweaves different lives, different ages, different stories to create a narrative that is powerful and telling. I almost wish I’d read this one for class so that I had someone to discuss it with. It’s short read made easier by O’Brien’s beautiful prose. 5/5 Wagging Tails
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
One-Sentence Summary: The Alice Network tells the story of two women–Eve Gardiner’s time as a young spy during World War I and Charlie St. Clair’s journey to find her cousin along with an older Eve–bound together by their journey to deliver justice to one man.
I really, really expected this book to be better. There was just too much packed into this and yet nothing really happened for a majority of the 500-some pages this lasted. I loved learning about the Alice Network–a real network of female spies working for England and France during World War I–but I was disappointed that only two or three of the book’s characters were actual historical figures. Eve, along with Charlie and the majority of the other characters were purely fictional. The prose was pretty stilted, too, which made reading this difficult (and I don’t normally comment on prose), and there was often too much flowery detail packed into one sentence. Learning about the Alice Network was just about the only reason I finished this book. 2/5 Wagging Tails
Need To Know by Karen Cleveland
One-Sentence Summary: Written by a former CIA/FBI analyst, Need To Know tells the story of Vivian, a CIA analyst and mother who finds out that her husband of ten years is working for the Russian terrorists she has spent her career tracking. An ARC of Need To Know was given to me by Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review.
I read this book in one night. It’s not incredible prose, and it won’t change your life, and it ends on a cliffhanger, but it’s a keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller. Is Vivian’s husband loyal to Russia or to America? Loyal to the terrorists or to her? I kind of guessed the big plot twist at the end (I guess I’ve watched too many crime shows), but I wasn’t expecting the Epilogue, which contained what is arguably the even bigger plot twist. Sure, there was a bit too much do-I-love-my-husband and I-love-my-kids-so-much from Vivian, which I could’ve had less of, and she was pretty naïve, considering she’s a CIA analyst. But honestly, (1) READ THIS if you like spy thrillers and (2) WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK COMING OUT?! OH, also the film rights for the movie adaptation of this book were just sold to Charlize Theron! 3.5/5 Wagging Tails