Historical Fiction (Teen), Science Fiction (Teen), YA Fiction

The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love novels on alternative history. It’s always interesting to ask “what would the world have been like if this had happened instead of this”? It is so easy to take for granted the life we have, and to not realize that just some minor changes to historical events could have drastic consequences for the future. That was what drew me to this novel when I first saw the premise. Now, here is my review:

Nazi England, 2014. Jessika Keller is the epitome of what it means to be a good girl: champion ice skater, model student of the Bund Deutscher Mädel, and dutiful daughter of the Greater German Reich. When she first met her best friend, Clementine, she was happy to find someone different from her, someone whom she could take under her wing. But Clementine is not so submissive. Clementine is outspoken, dangerous, and radical. At first, it seemed funny. But now, the regime has noticed. Jess cannot keep both her perfect life and her dearest friend, her first love. But which can she live without?

I think this novel had a lot of potential. The story is really interesting and I was happy that the novel was told from the perspective of a teenage girl. The author touches on a lot of different topics like loyalty, sexuality, and freedom, and these topics were presented very well. Jessika is undoubtedly the main character, and the whole story is about how she is changed through her interactions with Clementine. The story is split into 3 parts that chronicle 3 different time points in Jessika’s life. I think that the strongest part of the book was Part One; this is where the story really developed. We only hear from Jessika’s perspective, but it is a very good perspective to read from as we see her ignorance being chipped away by the events she is seeing and the emotions she is experiencing. We see her try to reconcile between the truth and what she has always believed, and we see how hard she fights to maintain her innocence. This part made me feel the most connection to Jessika and it had me invested in the story. However, the second and third part of this story was a big let down. In the second part, the author went back and forth in time (again from Jessika’s perspective) but after the constant forward motion of the first part, this just made it confusing to read. I also thought that there were big jumps being made in the story that weren’t really addressed by the author. More detail and a more consistent flow would have made this section better. The last section of the novel was even more inconsistent; it felt like it wasn’t even part of the same book! Now, Jessika is at a different time point and age and there was no real transition to this new point. The abruptness really didn’t work for me and it left me disappointed in the ending, which didn’t have the depth of emotion that the first part had. Overall, this novel had a very interesting start but the choppiness of the second and third part of this book led to disappointment. I’m giving this a 2.5/5 stars.

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