Title: Front Lines / Silver Stars / Dead of Night
Series: Front Lines #1 #2
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Source: Review Copy
Synopsis from Goodreads
FRONT LINES – 1942. The fate of the world rests on a knife’s edge. And the soldiers who can tip the balance . . . are girls.
Set in an alternate World War II where young women are called up to fight alongside men, this is the story of Rio Richlin and her friends as they go into battle against Hitler’s forces.
But not everyone believes that they should be on the front lines. Now Rio and her friends must fight not only to survive, but to prove their courage and ingenuity. Because the fate of the world is in the hands of the soldier girls.
SILVER STARS – The summer of 1943, World War II. With heavy memories of combat, Frangie, Rainy, Rio, and the rest of the American army are moving on to their next target: the Italian island of Sicily.
The women won’t conquer Italy alone. They are not heroes for fighting alongside their brothers—they are soldiers. But Frangie, Rainy, Rio, and the millions of brave females fighting for their country have become a symbol in the fight for equality. They will brave terrible conditions in an endless siege; they will fight to find themselves on the front lines of WWII; and they will come face-to-face with the brutality of war until they win or die.
DEAD OF NIGHT – Set in the alternative World War II scenario of his Front Lines novels, Michael Grant, author of the bestselling GONE series, has written this story exclusively for World Book Day 2017.
Rio Richlin doesn’t have superpowers. She is an ordinary young woman. A soldier in the American army, wearing a uniform, carrying a rifle, and fighting alongside thousands who are trying to make a difference, trying to change the world.
At least, that’s the plan. Right now she’s part of a squad on a training exercise in some place called Wales. They’re cold, they’re wet, and Rio’s pretty sure they’re also lost. Spending the night in a creepy old inn wasn’t part of the plan at all…
Rio’s only training. But soon, the fate of the world will be in the hands of the soldier girls.
REVIEW BY JACK – YEAR 11
The Front Lines Series, consists of Front Lines, Silver Stars and the new World Book Day short story Dead of Night, set in the middle of Front Lines. They are all set in an alternative World War Two, where the USA has recruited both women and men into its regular army. The brilliant thing about this alternative history is that almost nothing else has changed, the culture of the army is still realistically sexist and racist, and thus the description of military life is still harsh and true to life.
The main character, Rio Richlin, enlisted with her outgoing friend Jenou after her sister Rachel died in service with the Navy. The two novels also follow the separate but linked stories of the Jewish Intelligence Sergeant Rainy Schulterman and the black medic Frangie Marr. All three clearly develop from pathetic green soldiers to near-perfect professionals through various adventures and battles, with their personal lives covered as well.
The best character for me is Sergeant Schulterman, a serious soldier from the start; and with the most difficult job of all advising senior officers and operating undercover. She also faces additional challenges throughout as a Jew in World War Two My favourite part of the series is the ending, where the efforts of the three central characters are recognised, though they remain cynical and sceptical themselves.
I can find very little to criticise in the series, although I did find the regular name-dropping of historical figures quite annoying. However, overall I enjoyed the Front Lines series, especially the way Michael Grant combines historical plausibility with solid, recognisable characters. I give the series 5 out of 5 stars and I will recommend it to my friends, although I am not planning to read Grant’s other books as they are dystopian rather than historical. Also, the Front Lines books contain lots of violence and quite explicit language so are unsuitable for younger readers.
Specifically, I thought that the World Book Day short story was well-written and my favourite part was the “ghost of war future” with Lieutenant Charles, as it relates to the recently discovered evils of combat. However, the series of ghostly dreams of the main character feels like an uninventive way of creating a short story from the series. Thus I can only give Dead of Night 3/5 stars.