I was initially attracted by the promise of young women fighting alongside their male counterparts and thriving within the intense and deadly landscape. But what I found was so, so much more than a sense of feminism and righteousness. Front Lines is like nothing you've ever seen before.
Imagine being a young woman with a sense of duty to your country, your family and make something of your life despite the prejudice against your background or the colour of your skin. Volunteering for what has always been viewed as a male dominated battle of physicality and brute force. Being female, your superiors and fellow soldiers despise your bravery and determination, you'll never be treated as anything close to being an equal. This is exactly what Rio, Rainy and Frangie face. Labelled as incompetent based only on their gender, with Rainy being spat upon for her Jewish heritage and downed soldiers refusing treatment from Frangie due to the colour of her skin. It was empowering to see each girl rise above the blatant sexism and prejudice, showing their strength of character when their male counterparts could not.
She cannot, will not, spend the war in a swivel chair.
As the storyline progresses it's told in two parts, enlistment and then being sent to war. The storyline is told as a third person perspective as a memoir, the girls telling their stories through an unknown storyteller who often speaks directly to the reader. I usually find storylines where the narrator is aware of a reader often as strange and confronting, but it was truly incredible.
Once the girls complete their training, they are set to task to take advantage of their abilities, Rio sent to the front lines of combat, Rainy working a mundane desk position and Frangie training as a medic in the field. I haven't read many fiction young adult novels based on what are every real events, but from the witness account and the girls telling their story through a third party, the emotion of war was devastating. Taking the life of a person under any circumstances is nothing to be taken lightly and Michael Grant constructed the storyline with such care and an incredible amount of honesty and confidence.
Rio's character by far has the greatest impact and growth. She begins as an angry young woman, wanting to take a life to avenge her late sister, but throughout her journey from the recruitment office to the battlefield, her character gains the respect of not only her peers but superiors as well. Her internal struggle between following orders and taking an opposing soldiers life even in self defense brought a humility to her character.
It is a lengthy read and feels much longer than It's 460 pages, especially given the subject matter and the brutality of war. It was breathtaking, incredibly vivid and places the reader alongside Rio, Rainy and Frangie as they embark on becoming the first female soldiers of the United States army. Book two cannot come soon enough. It's phenomenal.
- Started reading
- 12 February, 2016: Finished reading
- 12 February, 2016: Reviewed