Publisher's Note:  

Neal Bascomb delivers another nail-biting work of nonfiction for young adults in this incredible true story of spies and survival. 

The invasion begins at night, with German cruisers slipping into harbor, and soon the Nazis occupy all of Norway. They station soldiers throughout the country. They institute martial rule. And at Vemork, an industrial fortress high above a dizzying gorge, they gain access to an essential ingredient for the weapon that could end World War II: Hitler s very own nuclear bomb. 

When the Allies discover the plans for the bomb, they agree Vemork must be destroyed. But after a British operation fails to stop the Nazis deadly designs, the task falls to a band of young Norwegian commandos. Armed with little more than skis, explosives, and great courage, they will survive months in the snowy wilderness, elude a huge manhunt, and execute two dangerous missions. The result? The greatest act of sabotage in all of World War II.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Arthur A. Levine (A Scholastic Imprint)

Sabotage: The Mission to Destroy Hitler's Atomic Bomb: Young Adult Edition

by Neal Bascomb

Review Date:

Recommended Age:

Overall Rating:

Profanity / Language Rating:

Violence / Gore Rating:

Sex / Nudity Rating:

Overall Review:  

With a thrilling title, captivating cover, and a seasoned bestselling author's narrative, Sabotage: The Mission to Destroy Hitler's Atom Bomb, is sure to be a hit--right? Well, yes and no. The explanation of events (Norwegians' mission to sabotage the Nazi's production of heavy water to produce an atomic bomb) starts off slow and somewhat scattered, as author Neal Bascomb begins to introduce the readers to the characters that will be involved in the operation. Shifting around from the characters to the events leading up to the decision to devise a mission, presents itself as cluttered and a bit confusing. It is an admirable attempt on the author's part to be so thorough in mentioning everyone involved within the effort, but for readers wanting action right off the bat, you'll just have to wait. Once the science and other included information is sifted through, readers will get the opportunity to come to know the gallant men that sacrificed and braved so much to ensure that Hitler's regime did not have access to the destructive powers of an atomic bomb. Keeping in mind how insanely ruthless and brutal Hitler was, can you even imagine the consequences if this operation had failed to be successful? Obviously, they were prosperous in their mission, but getting down to the nitty gritty of how it all played out is inconceivable, and at times reads with the same excitement of a fiction narrative. But, fact is always better, especially when it comes to this book. The story of the soldiers and others involved within this war effort is truly astounding, and the firsthand accounts and portraits of participants enclosed add better insight to the circumstances.

It is plain to see that the author researched his work exhaustively and laid it out well with the included bibliography, notes, maps, and added pictures. Not having read the author's previous works, I cannot say if this is his best, but it is definitely extensive and will be appreciated by historical fact connoisseurs.

There are many instances of the violence, but because the action is mostly reported secondhand, middle-schoolers could read the book, but it may best be suited for mature young adults who already have an appreciation/fascination with World War II events, or those of Norwegian ancestry, as it is a remarkable and proud moment for that nation.

So I leave it up to the reader, does this book blow, or light you up with excitement? 

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  3 religious exclamations; 3 mild obscenities; 4 anatomical terms. 

Violence/Gore:  Note: all violence portrayed is reported secondhand, unless otherwise noted. Picture of soldier with gun; list of weapons; soldiers given cyanide pills in case of capture (4x); report of Germany invading Norway; mention of allied bombers and patrols with weapons; implication of nuclear bomb; extended scene (about 3 pages) reports of fighting caused by invasion; soldiers fight with guns and bombs; report of drunk soldier getting punched; plot to kidnap official; executions mentioned; soldier is slapped; death caused by health issues; report of what an atom bomb may be capable of; information of death and destruction from bombing; picture depicting results of bombed city; threat of weapon extended scene (about 2 pages); extended scene (about 5 pages) soldiers are trained on how to fight and kill; extended scene (about 1 page) description of operation, somewhat detailed in blood and gore; men/women hijack boat, tie up crew; report of bombing raids (2x); report of an attack; threat of nuclear bombs is discussed a few times throughout the book; mention of soldier still having a bullet in his/her body from previous gunfire; report of man/woman accidentally shooting themselves causing injury; extended scene (about 1 ½ pages) discussion of an attack, talk of it being a suicide squad, implying possible death(s); extended scene (about a ¼ of a page) resistance fighters are sent to concentration camps, resulting in ill treatment, madness, and/or death; extended scene (about 1 page) report of citizens being threatened, tortured, and/or executed; brief report of capabilities of an atomic bomb; parachuter is said to have a rough landing causing minor injury; impending attack is said to be a “suicide mission”; discussion for plan of attack; animal(s) are killed for food; list of weapons for soldier(s) use; extended scene (about 3 pages) report of injuries and death(s) as a result of a crash, soldiers are discovered and taken as prisoners of war, beaten and executed; residents endure air raids; threat of being shot; soldiers cause destruction to residents' homes; man/woman hunts for food while he/her and fellow comrades endure starvation; experiment causes explosion; man/woman hunts animal killing, skinning, and dressing kill for consumption; soldiers wonder about dying; report of gunfire hitting plane causing damage; report of soldiers discussing the need to kill a man/woman; soldiers plan attack; possibility of encountering violent death; threat of retaliation; character accidentally cuts themselves; explosives go off destroying property; picture showing explosion's destruction; extended scene (about 1 page) soldiers exchange gunfire, shooting to kill, injury inflicted; threat of being sent to a concentration camp; extended scene (about 1 page) soldier is shot at while trying to escape, grenades thrown at him/her, injury inflicted; soldier contracts sickness; threat of being captured; report of capture and torture; plan to bomb a facility mentioned 2x; extended scene (about 3 pages) attack described, causing death and destruction; picture of results from a bomb; report of allied striking target daily; threat of attack; report of family member being tortured for information; threat of an attack with the possibility of loss of civilian life; possibility of death; plans for impending attack; threat of violence if captured; extended scene (about 2 pages) account of ship sinking as a result of an explosive, results in some deaths; hard rowing results in bloodied hands; report of death from blitz bombing; brief report of war assaults; comment on individuals taking to drinking to forget past violence; report of atomic bomb being dropped on Japan; picture on atomic bomb dropping on Hiroshima, Japan; report of character being shot and killed.

Sex/Nudity:  Man hugs his wife; mention of underwear; demised are said to be stripped to their underwear.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Nazi invasion, war, resistance, explosives/bombs/nuclear bomb, sabotage.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Secondhand report of drunk soldier getting punched; mention of cigarette paper; soldiers are inebriated; man/woman smokes while training soldiers; men/women go to pub to drink; “saloon” on boat mentioned, this could indicate a common room; leader smokes cigar; character is said to enjoy smoking a pipe; soldiers pack cigarettes; room is described as smoky; character is said to quit smoking tobacco for health; tobacco for pipe; smoking cigarettes; soldiers drink champagne; man/woman smokes pipe; mention of soldiers receiving rations of tobacco; soldiers drink whiskey; leader said to chomp on cigars; individuals share tobacco; comment on individuals taking to drinking to forget past violence; mention of individual drinking gin.

Reviewed By MaryLou
No image available