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The Spy with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers) Hardcover – October 2, 2018
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"One of the most memorable reads of 2017.” —Paste Magazine on The Girl with the Red Balloon
“This sophisticated, unusual work is likely to appeal to fans of World War II and Holocaust fiction, as well as those who like their history with a tinge of romance and magic.” —School Library Journal on The Girl with the Red Balloon
“Locke’s is an enthralling story. It exposes the cruelties inflicted on minority populations under authoritarian regimes, but counterbalances such pain with magic, friendship, and even a little romance.” —Foreword Reviews on The Girl with the Red Balloon
About the Author
- Lexile measure : HL690L
- Grade level : 6 - 9
- Item Weight : 1.12 pounds
- Hardcover : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0807529346
- ISBN-13 : 978-0807529348
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.25 inches
- Publisher : AW Teen (October 2, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Reading level : 12 and up
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,430,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I laughed because there's sibling banter and teammate banter, and it gives small spots of light in darkness. I cried, and it wasn't a part at which one would expect a reader to cry. One of Ilse's chapters starts with her talking about how slow, difficult, and grinding scientific progress can be but that the process is still important. And in reading that, I felt so seen because research is slow and difficult and such a fight for me right now, and a fictional, magical girl in 1943 felt the same way.
CW: war, nuclear weapons, gun violence, basically forced military service, anti-Semitism, concentration camps, genocide, mass killings, misogyny, racism (especially anti-Blackness), anti-queerness, interrogation, torture.
Girl and Spy are definitely worth a read for those interested in punching Nazis and keeping (a/the/any) faith in a hard world (and if you are less rule-abiding than me, you can absolutely pick up Spy and not feel lost without Girl).
The story stars siblings Ilse and Wolf. They are recruited to help the war effort with their magic. Wolf is sent overseas as a spy, and Ilse become part of the Manhattan project, working on a way to deliver the atomic bomb with magic.
There are some really intriguing things about this book. I do enjoy a good alternate history, and I'm going to slot this one in with other great alternate World War II novels like Wolf by Wolf and Front Lines. I really like the way science and magic overlap in the Balloonist series. I also really enjoyed the sibling relationship between Wolf and Ilse. I was completely on board with the relationship between Wolf and Max. However, I thought Ilse's romance was underdeveloped and frankly unnecessary. Sometimes in YA books it feels like there's a need for every character to pair up, and that can feel forced. I would have loved more of an emphasis on Ilse's friendships.
All in all this book has a fun combination of science and magic, daring rescues, lots of danger, questionable morals, LGBT romances, and familial love.