"Russia, 1941. The day the Germans invade, 16-year-old flying prodigy Aelya Makarova is giving flight lessons and thinking about summer vacation. Within weeks, her hometown is destroyed. When the Soviet Air Force starts recruiting women, Aelya knows how she can fight back: at the controls of a fighter plane. But the Nazis aren't the only foes she needs to face. Her female squadron is split by petty rivalries, male pilots treat them like a joke, and the perfect motherland she thought she was fighting for doesn't exist. Put to the ultimate test in the deadly skies over Stalingrad, Aelya must decide how much she is willing to sacrifice. Because risking her life is only the beginning. What her country needs isn't a hero. It's a killer."
Set in Russia during the German attacks in 1941 and 1942 this novel follows youth fighter pilot Aelya from Smolensk as she advances through the ranks. As a Smolensk resident and later as pilot she experiences the war first hand, her youth lends a different dimension and perspective to the war.
While excellent dialogue and characterisation illustrate the various layers of Soviet society at the time and the different reasons for civilian people to join the patriotic cause, the novel is also historically astute: It is well researched, shines through a thoughtfully composed mixture of real and fictitious components and features a variety of excellent aircraft fighting scenes.
Insightful, layered and suspenseful, this is very enjoyable and a good set-up for the sequel.
© Christoph Fischer
[#DDRevs Admin: the author's name does not match on the Amazon entry (Darius Jung) with the book cover (D L JUNG) A minor oversight I suspect, but irritating when attempting to connect links]
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