BOOK REVIEW | THE TRAITOR
TITLE: The Traitor
AUTHOR: V.S. Alexander
PUBLISHER: Kensington Publishing Corp
RELEASE DATE: February 25, 2020
GENRE: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
Drawing on the true story of the White Rose—the resistance movement of young Germans against the Nazi regime—The Traitor tells of one woman who offers her life in the ultimate battle against tyranny, during one of history’s darkest hours.
In the summer of 1942, as war rages across Europe, a series of anonymous leaflets appears around the University of Munich, speaking out against escalating Nazi atrocities. The leaflets are hidden in public places, or mailed to addresses selected at random from the phone book. Natalya Petrovich, a student, knows who is behind the leaflets—a secret group called the White Rose, led by siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl and their friends.
As a volunteer nurse on the Russian front, Natalya witnessed the horrors of war first-hand. She willingly enters the White Rose’s circle, where every hushed conversation, every small act of dissent could mean imprisonment or death at the hands of an infuriated Gestapo. Natalya risks everything alongside her friends, hoping the power of words will encourage others to resist. But even among those she trusts most, there is no guarantee of safety—and when danger strikes, she must take an extraordinary gamble in her own personal struggle to survive. (Description from Goodreads)
(***Please note that this review may contain spoilers***)
Before I jump into my thoughts about The Traitor, I wanted to start with a quote from the author’s notes. “I can safely say that fewer Europeans outside of Germany, and most Americans, particularly young people, know little of the resistance movements like the White Rose and the Red Orchestra. Their only exposure may be a mention in passing during a history class on World War II. This is another reason I wanted to write The Traitor. We should never forget”. (The Traitor, V.S. Alexander)
For almost a year, I’ve been reading various historical fiction books surrounding WWII because I wanted to continue learning about this time in history. Like the author said, “we should never forget” and books like The Traitor and all the others I’ve read are making sure we know about the people that resisted Hitler’s evil and the horrors of that terrible time in history. We should never forget so that we never see this again in our future.
The Traitor is based on a real group called the White Rose who “composed four leaflets, which exposed and denounced Nazi and SS atrocities, including the extermination of Jews and Polish nobility, and called for resistance to the regime” (History).
Rather than focus on the real life founders and participants of this group, V.S. Alexander created fictional characters that could have been really part of the group. I thought this was a great path for the author to go because there’s more that he could do with the characters and there’s less pressure to be historically accurate with real individuals. However, he still included the founders, Hans and Sophie Scholl as well as other prominent members of the group, but made sure to be true to who they were.
This book was different from the books I’ve read recently, as it focused solely on the perspective of one person, Natalya Petrovich. Other books usually include perspectives from several different people. I liked that I was able to follow just one person’s thoughts and experiences throughout the entire war. We follow Natalya through seeing her town (Munich) destroy jewish establishments all the way to the American liberation of the POW prison she was working at.
V.S. Alexander really captured the horrific circumstances, torture, manipulation, blackmail, and deceitfulness that Natalya faced after she was arrested for being a member of the White Rose. She was consider a traitor to the Reich and every day could have been her last. She spent years in prison, was sent to an asylum, and escaped with the help of others who resisted Hitler’s rule. There was a lot of death along the way and Natalya lost a lot of people, but she didn’t lose hope and kept on going despite everything she’d been through. She was a very brave woman and I suspect there were many women like her that actually existed during WWII.
Overall, this book was amazing. I couldn’t put it down and would highly recommend reading it regardless of the genres you do or don’t read. It’s a great story about resilience in the face of death and uncertainty. It’s a look into another piece of history that you may not know enough about. Most importantly, it highlights the evil that plagued its time and how people overcame it and fought against it. I look forward to reading more from this author and happy I discovered him on NetGalley.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
V.S. Alexander is an ardent student of history with a strong interest in music and the visual arts. Some of V.S.’s writing influences include Shirley Jackson, Oscar Wilde, Daphne du Maurier, or any work by the exquisite Brontë sisters. V.S. lives in Florida and is at work on a second historical novel for Kensington. (Bio found on Kensington Publishing Corp website)
Thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.