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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

My name is Lucie Blaise. I am sixteen years old. I have many aliases, but I am none of the girls you see. What I am is the newest recruit of Covert Ops. And we are here to take down Hitler. After the Nazis killed my brother on the North African front, I volunteered at the Office of Strategic Services in Washington to do my part for the war effort. Only instead of a desk job at the OSS, I was tapped to join the Clandestine Operations--a secret espionage and sabotage organization of girls. Six months ago, I was deployed to German-occupied France to gather intelligence and eliminate Nazi targets. My current mission: Track down and interrogate a Nazi traitor about a weapon that threatens to wipe out all of Western Europe. Then find and dismantle the weapon before Hitler detonates it. But the deeper I investigate, the more danger I'm in. Because the fate of the free world hangs in the balance, and trusting the wrong person could cause millions of lives to be lost. Including my own.…

The Darkest Hour

by Caroline Tung Richmond

Overall Book Review:

YA author Caroline Tung Richmond, follows up her 2014 debut novel, The Only Thing to Fear, with stunner The Darkest Hour. Like her previous novel, Richmond uses the Nazi reign and a strong female lead to draw readers in, but instead of an alternate history, this latest novel is inspired by actual people and events.

As a member of the OSS covert operations team, teenage Lucie Blaise must earn the title of agent by killing anyone who gets in the way of bringing Hitler down as she and others help the local French resistance fight to be free of the Nazi regime.

That’s a lesson you learn quickly under Hitler’s iron fist: You can’t save everyone who deserves saving, so you do the next best thing – you take out the ones who don’t

Told in first person, there is little room for the reader to rest as action bursts forth from opening to closing scene, with the author depicting spy games, mad scientists, and even revenge. Though fast-paced, readers will find every scene worth the wild ride because the author is a skilled driver who knows the course.

So it is historical fiction with action and adventure, but there is also love–not in the way you’d expect though. Instead of a romance, readers will find a beautiful story of tender affection and devotion to a sibling who has passed, but whose memory sustains Lucie through the darkest of hours.

This is fiction that will excite readers and hopefully incite them to learn more about past events and people that helped shaped this and other countries.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  4 religious exclamations; 1 offensive hand gesture. Note: French word used as a scatological term was not tallied.

Violence/Gore:  Memory of getting knuckles rapped by a nun; character makes it known that he/she does not like a certain group of people; character makes a remark about getting the belt from a parent when they were younger; extended scene (about 1.5 pages) character is forcefully pushed and slapped, same character makes comment that slap reminds them of their parent’s drunken outbursts; character is given orders to kill; character is eager to kill another character; character knees another character threatening them with a knife (2x); mentions of soldiers dying because of a untrustworthy informant; character begins to cut another character, but stops unexpectedly; character falls to the ground in pursuit of another character; character threatens another character while pointing a gun at them; remark about a character killing someone with a bomb; mention of character being trained to kill; report of bombing; character remembers injury sibling received at the hands of their father; report of agent being killed, and another taken captive; mentions of covert operatives having a suicide pill in case they’re captured; implication of bombing; extended scene (about ½ page) character thinks about violent outcomes that may have happened; character ordered to kill another character; character thinks about using violence against another character (about 4x); character punches another character’s arm in jest; semi-descriptive violent extended scene (about 2 pages) characters shoot at each other, mentions of blood and death; extended scene (about 1 page) somewhat intense violence, blood and gore, descriptive fighting and stabbing; characters talk about how killing becomes easier the more you do it; character injures shoulder; evidence that a city’s been bombed; character slaps and threatens another character; character views photos in which patients are afflicted with horrible disease; character feels the urge to be violent; character threatens another character with gun; character threatens another character with bodily harm; extended scene (about 2 pages) somewhat descriptive killing scene; character arrives with bruises; characters see dead bodies Nazis have displayed on streets meant to enact fear in residents; female character says she used her womanly charms to escape from a dangerous situation; character threatens to choke others; extended scene (about 1 page) character is attacked by dog, guns, killing; character is ordered to kill; mentions of character being injured; report of death and railway bombing; extended scene (about 2.5 pages) exchange of threats, violent actions, and killing by gun, blood mentioned; characters blow up building with enemy soldiers inside; character admits to killing people; character kills an individual; characters use an explosion as a distraction; characters kill with gunfire; gunfire exchange results in death; character tries to fight their way out of being detained and taken prisoner; character fantasizes about violent things he/she will do to another character (2x); character tries biting another character; mentions of past incidents of violence; character kicks and incapacitates another character; character tackles another character and injects them with lethal dosage of drugs; extended scene (about 1 page) descriptive, characters shoot to kill; extended scene (about 2 pages) character sacrifices to blow up a building with enemies inside; report of casualty of war; mention of putting character in choke-hold to prevent further escape; extended scene (about 1 page) character kills somewhat descriptively, blood; character has violent thoughts (somewhat funny); non-descriptive, character shoots to kill; city is described to be in rubble because of bombings; characters speak of past violence; character is briefly violent with another character, blood mentioned. 

Sex/Nudity:  Female is said to show cleavage, when male character does not responds how she would have hoped, she jokes that perhaps male character enjoys the company of other men; the word “lover” is used; male character is said to have a girlfriend; male character informs sibling of them secretly marrying their significant other; character thinks about an almost kiss; kiss on hand; female characters flirt and are said to use their “assets”; female character says she used her womanly charms to escape from a dangerous situation; characters remove clothes and help each other bathe (non-sexual).

Mature Subject Matter:

War, murder/killing, Nazi regime, espionage/covert operations.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

A few mentions of character’s parent being a violent alcoholic; a few mentions of smoking; drug used to induce truth telling; characters are held against will and given drugs to help promote allegiance; character drinks until they pass out; character tackles another character and injects them with lethal dosage of drugs.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I appreciate books of all genres, but my main squeeze is fiction. Depending on my mood it could be romance or suspense; lately I’ve been courting fantasy. When I don’t have my nose in a book, I am locating tasty paleo recipes, writing in-coherent poetry, and crafting with paper.