Title: Prisoner of Night and Fog
Author: Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 22nd 2014
Rating: 3 stars
To be honest, I'm not really a historical fiction reader. Although I wish it would be otherwise, historical books just aren't my thing. For some reason, they just never really grab me. (Which sucks, since just about every book I have to read for school is historical fiction.) I only picked up Prisoner of Night and Fog because of 1) that cover, and 2) that synopsis. I knew that I was picking up something historical, but I mean, come on. The devoted niece of Hitler who gets into a relationship with a Jew and starts questioning her uncle's ways? Yes please. Although ultimately I think this book executed everything well, Prisoner of Night and Fog failed to grab me and suck me in.
First I have to compliment Blankman's writing. It's not overly flowery, but it managed to be pretty while also giving the book a very sober feel. Her writing style fits the story perfectly; it feels gray but never dull, sober and warlike. Although there are no exquisite paragraphs questioning life or just being generally pretty (à la Laini Taylor), Blankman has a way of choosing the exact right words for certain settings and happenings.
Although her prose was very pretty, this book failed to bring out anything in me emotion-wise. I never connected to any of the characters - or the story, for that matter - and I never really felt the urge to keep on reading. I was in a huge reading slump while reading this book and I'm not sure whether all of the above was because of that reading slump or that this book caused the reading slump. Either way, I could put away this book for days and not care. In fact, I read another book while reading this book and that is something I never do.
In general, I just felt quite "meh" about this. The characters were interesting, but not strong enough (to me) to carry the story. Gretchen, our main character, felt quite bland to me. I liked her, but never really got a grasp on her personality. Same goes for the love interest, Daniel. he was a nice guy for sure, but I just never felt like I really understood him. In fact, I think all of the characters, save for our psychopaths, could use more developing. That is, I found Gretchen's brother Reinhard and Hitler very interesting to read about. I think Blankman did a good job on portraying particularly Hitler. His charm, his craziness, his coldness and his love for Germany. He was just a very interesting character all around and I also really liked how Blankman managed to put in a little analysis of his character through Gretchen and the psychoanalyst.
The romance felt the same as the involved characters to me: likeable, but bland. I didn't have any problem with them being together, but to say that I was shipping them with all my might... No, not really. I never really felt the chemistry between the two, but I will say that I think they were fit for each other.
Ultimately, I think Prisoner of Night and Fog was a good book. It just wasn't for me, but I feel that might have to do more with its genre than with the book itself. Although everything felt slightly bland to me, I think that those who have enjoyed historical fiction in the past might really enjoy, even love, Prisoner of Night and Fog. If the synopsis and genre appeal to you, go for it! It just wasn't really for me.
(Also, please excuse me if Prisoner of Night and Fog isn't actually historical fiction but another genre. I'm a disaster when it comes to genres. The only ones I recognize with absolute certainty are contemporary and dystopian. So yeah.)