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4.5 stars, this is a book about world war 2 told by Sarah a young girl who goes under cover in a Nazi border school for girls to uncover secrets. The plot twist is that she's Jewish and is basically a mouse going into a snakes den. This book kind of blew me away. It's unlike anything I've read before. I really connected with Sarah because of how brave she is. She dropped everything in her life to go into the snakes den to take them out and fight for her country. It was so inspiring. It started off kinda slow but I'm actually glad it did because it gave me more time to connect with Sarah and the captain. And then story in general. I cannot get enough of reading about what happened to the Jewish people and I can't and won't stop reading about people like Sarah who stood up for what was right and fought for her people. I really recommend this book.
Most of us have probably heard the old saw, "You can't judge a book by it's cover". Well, it's especially true in this case. While the title is explained in the narrative, I can't imagine a worse one. Had I not specifically been looking for books on espionage during WW II I would have never given it a second look and I would have missed a really entertaining and informative read. It looks like a cheap, gory potboiler and I wish, for his sake, Mr. Killeen had chosen something different, because I think if it had been published under something more inviting his sales might be better. Anyway, I hope people read it.
Set in the beginning of WW II, Orphan Monster Spy tells the story of Sarah, a blonde Jewish 15-year-old who's on the run with her mother in Germany just before the story opens. Instantly, Sarah's on her own and encounters a man who becomes a strange ally of hers--and he also helps her turn herself into a spy. It's a unique book full of surprises and it's a treat to watch Sarah grow into her role. She's strong in the beginning and stronger by the end.
The story is quite unique for a WW II book. From what I can tell, it's not really an alternate history so Killeen has to work with the basic facts of the war with just a few tweaks. There's also a lot more going on than a war story. The book is really about something else, which will probably surprise you when you run into it, but still feel inevitable. Killeen addresses the importance of this in his author's note at the end, too.
Highly recommended to fans of YA even if you're not a big historical fiction reader.
Reviewed in the United States on February 24, 2019
This remarkable book will keep you reading, wondering, and entering a time machine into the dark days of Nazi Germany but experienced through the mind and body of a kind of genius teenager who is able to do and be a kind of wondrous acrobat, thinker, extraordinary spy and all around heroine. The book is written or should I say surges with manic energy that captivates the reader as it brings new light and imagination into the idea of the possible human in an impossible world. I know that the novel already has a sequel in process and I hope that it will appear much sooner than later.
5.0 out of 5 starsInteresting WW2 Historical Fiction
Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2020
Bought a used paperback version. Seems to be in decent condition, only issue would be the binding and the outerness of the cover having slight creases and obvious signs of being worn down but it's still completely fine! I bought this as a gift for a friend. Overall, plot and narrative of this seems interesting. Most definitely sticks out from other WW2 historical fictions!
5.0 out of 5 starsA cracking thriller and one of the best YA books I've read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 10, 2018
YA writing at its best: strong characters, believable story, fast and convincing plot, interesting historical details (without overdoing it) and excellent dialogue (with some great humour). For me, so many YA books of late have burdened readers with hyper-realism, on-trend themes and over-developed characters that end up with 'worthy' but plodding tales. Yes, as an adult reader I think the 15 year-old girl heroine is a tad implausible at times but that's irrelevant because this is such a clever, exciting and, at times, harrowing yarn. Beautiful, intelligent writing with lots of clever devices throughout - author Matt Killeen is definitely one to watch.
Fifteen year old Sarah os orphaned when her mother is killed at a roadblock in Berlin just before the onset of World War 2 and this thrilling, beautifully written book follows her on her jourmey to becoming a spy. On the way, however, she is forced to pose as a monster by attending a Nazi run boarding school. The central characters, Sarah and the enigmatic Captain are vividly created and their relationship, which is central to the story, is believable and full of superb, crisp dialogue. The story itself is an exciting, tense adventure, at times chilling, at times disturbing but always thought-provoking and fast-moving. A follow-up is promised in 2019 and can't come quickly enough. Highly recommended.
4.0 out of 5 starsBrilliant characterisation and suspense filled plot
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 27, 2020
This very well written story is poignant and historically telling. Aimed at older YA readership there are lots of adult issues and a fifteen year old main character who adapts to becoming a spy with surprising ease. A huge amount of impressive research has obviously gone into this book. A gripping story that reflects some deeply sad and disturbing events.
Suddenly an orphan, Sarah is a Jewish girl on the run from Nazi soldiers. An unexpected run in with a mysterious man changes all her plans as they save each other multiple times. I really loved the way Sarah and the Captain worked so well together. It was almost as if they had been plotting together for years. The last part of the book was so full of action, I couldn't put it down.
Saw this in the bookshop and when it was reduced in price on amazon I couldn't say no. I originally intended to get it for my 10 year old daughter to read as well. I think I may wait another year as my wife thought there was a part in the book (non 'era' related) that she didn't need to read just yet. But I thought it was excellent.