Monday, April 30, 2012

Espionage Blog Tour: Book Review

Title: Espionage
Author: A.L. Sowards
Release Date: March 2012
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Genre: LDS Historical Ficton
Received from the author for review.
France, 1944: Nobody expects Peter Eddy to survive his first commando mission—to retrieve a code book stolen by the Nazis—so his success is rewarded with an even more daunting assignment. Partnered with fellow soldier Jacques Olivier, Eddy must identify which of three Allied contacts in Calais is a double agent and use the traitor to help implement a strategic Allied diversion that might win the war. Eddy and Olivier secretly cross the English Channel to confront their suspects one at a time, but what appears to be a clean assignment soon turns disastrous, and a shocking betrayal leaves Eddy in the grip of the Gestapo. With the courageous aid of Olivier and his sister, Genevieve, Eddy evades his captors in a high-speed chase through the streets of Calais. But as the Allied invasion approaches, treachery in the least likely places leads to fresh graves in the bloodied European soil—and only the power of loyalty and love can transform tragic endings into new beginnings.

I love World War II novels (which is sort of ironic because I have a really hard time watching World War II movies!) I enjoy reading historical fiction and learning about different people and eras. And World War II is especially fascinating to me partly because I have a personal connection to it (as most of us probably do) since both of my grandfathers fought in this war. And partly because this war had a major impact on our country and the world as a whole.

Because Espionage is a World War II novel, I knew I wanted to read from the minute I heard about it. And it met and exceeded my expectations! It had all the elements of a great novel as well as compelling moral dilemmas which left me reflecting over it long after I finished reading.

Espionage was also full of a wide array of personalities. From the main character to the little neighbor girl, each of the characters had a story to tell and each of the stories helped to add to the historical context of the book. I especially admired Genevieve, Olivier's sister. She was spunky and just as full of patriotic fire as her brother and other members of the Resistance. Being a woman did not hold her back from participating in acts of espionage right alongside her brother. And she showed every bit as much bravery and courage as the men did.

The main character, Peter Eddy, was a member of the LDS faith which presented some interesting moral issues. He had been brought up believing that killing was wrong and yet, he must "kill or be killed" so to speak. It was thought-provoking reading about the moral dilemma that Peter and many soldiers during this time must have felt.

Peter felt like he was standing waist deep in a mud puddle, but instead of mud, he was waist deep in darkness. . . His faith told him the Savior's Atonement could help, could make everything within him good and clean again, but he felt he had to get out of the puddle he was stuck in before any real cleansing could take place. [p. 86]
Peter's character did progress and grow over the course of the novel and he was even able to share these thoughts with Olivier to help him move past the hate he felt and work on forgiving others and himself.

Another thought provoking aspect of war that Espionage pointed out, was that not everything is completely "black-or-white". Most people would agree that Hitler and the Nazis were evil. However, that does not mean that all those who fought for him were. During his time in the war, Peter comes to learn this very thing and helps Genevieve to see it also.

"I met too many Italian civilians, and they told me about their husbands, sons, brothers. They were fighting against me, but they weren't evil, not if their families were to be believed. They were just victims of bad government. Then I met a few German prisoners. They weren't machines; they are human, and they were scared. And most of them didn't want to be at war any more than I did. They wanted to be farming or building things or taking care of their families. Hating them was the easy way, but it wasn't the right way. I had no more right to hate them than they had to hate me." [p.131]
There were also a number situations in the book where not everything was simply "black-or-white". Many people in the war were simply desperate to survive. I wondered a number of times while reading Espionage what I would have done in the same situation. Would I have had the courage to stand up for what was right and fight back? Or would I have succumbed and turned against friends and loved ones to save my own life?

Espionage is a fantastic debut from author A.L. Sowards. It is well written, with believable characters, and an exciting plot line. However, the thing that I appreciated the most about this book was the way it made me think--about war, about courage, about hate, and about forgiveness.

About the Author
Sowards is a graduate of Moses Lake High School and Brigham Young University. She swam competitively for sixteen years, including while she was in college. She found it more entertaining to think of plot ideas while following the black line up and down the bottom of the pool than having a song in her head that restarted with every flip turn. Sowards currently lives along the Wasatch front with her amazing husband and her adorable twin toddlers. Espionage is her debut novel.

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  1. Thank you, Lexie! For the tour and the review!

  2. This sounds like a fascinating book. I enjoy books about WWII and I thought this review was very helpful. I like that there are situations in the book that are not black or white.

  3. this book is new to me, thanks for sharing!

  4. This book sounds great! I'm so glad I found your blog when I saw you followed my new adult book blog. Thanks by the way. I'm a new follower of the book bug!

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