Inspired by the Night Witches, real WWII Soviet fighter pilots, Bartlett’s electrifying feminist fantasy debut uses keenly wrought characters, harrowing action sequences, and creative yet economical worldbuilding to explore misogynistic military culture and the human cost of war. Revna Roshena’s father is serving life in prison for stealing military scrap to fashion her prosthetic legs, so when a Union officer witnesses the 17-year-old practicing banned magic known as the Weave in the middle of an enemy attack, she fears she’ll meet a similar fate. Instead, the Union proposes a deal: if she’ll use her magical abilities to fly planes made of sentient metal for an experimental all-female regiment, they’ll forgive her crimes and provide for her family. Revna bonds with all her fellow recruits except Linné Zolonov, a general’s daughter caught posing as a boy to join the military. Linné initially disdains her fellow soldiers’ femininity and inexperience, and regards Revna as a liability. Then the two are sent into battle as navigator and pilot, forcing both to reexamine her own prejudices regarding strength and ability, loyalty, and patriotism. Revna and Linné’s relationship evolves via an alternating third-person narrative, compounding the depth and heft of an already sophisticated plot. The stirring conclusion inspires hope for a sequel. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kurestin Armada, P.S. Literary. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 02/28/2019 Release date: 04/02/2019 Genre: Children's
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