19 August, 2016

REVIEW: PAPER BOATS by Erndell Scott

Title: Paper Boats
Author: Erndell Scott
Series: -
Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction,
Publisher: Erich Scott Group
Source: Paperback
Pages: 441

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Set in the desperate turmoil of Germany during the final chapter of World War II, “Paper Boats” by Erndell Scott is an emotionally intense, theatrical, suspense-driven read, examining the inevitable crossing of ideology, prejudice and faith amongst the chaos of a decimated post-war culture. As each character strives to find their own safety from enemies and persecution, two nine-year-old boys, Otto, of Jewish faith, and Joseph, a fanatical Hitler Youth, the most unlikely of partners, find themselves saviors for one another. Companions cast in deep personal conflict that is entangled with deceit and betrayal, they are swept into an unforgiving journey and become bound to each other, challenging their individual perceptions of mankind, and unbeknownst to them, their very own hearts. As their journey unfolds, Otto’s hope wanes, Joseph’s hatred swells, and without warning, the steady menace of war unleashes an evil, the likes of which they have never witnessed before.

I received this book from the publishers for an honest review. Thank you so much for the opportunity to read this book, and I just want to say a special thank you to the author Mr. Scott, who checked in with me and asked if I received the book. I felt flattered and could really see how much he cared for his creation!

THE WORLD: This book takes places in  somewhat around 1945 the end of Word War II. The plot takes place in Germany and somewhere near France. The world is dark, grey, filled with crushed dreams and pointless pain. You guys, the way the author describes the world surrounding the characters is amazing, the details he puts into every single description, sure makes the book long, but you don't need to imagine what it looks like, you just see it as you read. I will actually touch upon this a little later. So yeah, we are familiar with the world from basic knowledge we have on the WWII and of course the author helps us to imagine this world. The entire time I was reading this book I imagined this foggy, wet, cold field. Cold and scary!

CHARACTERS: The main character in this book is a young Jewish boy Otto Kaufmann. To be honest with you guys, I don't know his age, I figure he was somewhere between 10 and 15, but I'm sorry I did not catch his real age, if it was mentioned in the book, I missed it. Otto is the main focus in the book and he is carrying messages from Hitler and his council to war generals all over Germany and further. He was taken to the concentration camps with his family but he was taken from then because they needed a fast kid to do all their message carrying and well Otto was fast. In all honesty, I thought his character was rather weak, I did not understand where he was coming from at all. What bothered me so much was why a young child, who's been taken away from his family cares more about a childhood friend he might love, than his own mother and father. All through out the novel Otto speaks of nothing more than his Annie - a childhood friend he had - and how he misses her and how she's wonderful and how he might love her. I mean come one, he's like what? 12? How he knows what love is? And how come he doesn't cry for his parents? I mean this young boy who has been dropped in the middle of a horrible war, he understands that he will never see his mom and dad again, cares more of some girl then his own blood, I did not buy that. I dunno if this is how it was intended to be but  this is how I understood.

We also have a young German boy Joseph, who comes from a Nazi family. He is sort of ordered to escort Otto on a highly dangerous mission to make sure Otto gives the message to the general. I actually did like Joseph, he felt real, he just followed orders and what I liked the most was that despite of coming from a Nazi family he understood the wrong they were doing, the pain they were causing. He was actually really sarcastic and had quite a number of good jokes.

In the book there is actually a number of characters that appear so let me just separate them into ones I liked and ones I didn't. So I absolutely hated the German generals, they were all awful and just horrible people, in honesty they were written good, that's why I hated them so. I liked Ekkehard, he was sort if this father figure for Otto, when he came to work for the Germans, I also liked Marzena, a Polish girl Otto and Joseph meet on their way, she was refreshing to read.

To be honest with you guys, I did not care much for any of the characters, I just thought that a lot of them where misplaces and there shouldn't have been so many of them. The one single character I cared about was Joseph.

LOVE: We have a really strange love thing going on in this book. So Otto is in love with Annie, and we get that from like page two. Then on the road they meet Marzena, and Otto and her become like BFF's and then Joseph is jealous, because he also likes her.

MINUS:  Now before I start please be advised that there will be spoilers! If you would like to read this book don't read below!

I decided to start with all the issues I had with this book before I move to the good stuff, maybe it's not issues it's just observations. I will also be numerating them. So here we go: 1. Age of characters - I did not understand how old they were. I mean they would be talking about war and how horrible they are and share their life and you read and you think their at least  22 - 30 but then all of a sudden you get these weird childish remarks and you're like, oh yeah wait he's 10. I dunno it was beyond confusing to me. 2. I know everything mode - okay so in this book characters are extremely knowledgeable about everything. Otto gets really hurt at one point and he just brushes it off and puts o bandage on and like yup I'm okay! I mean he's a 10 year old kid right? He should cry and cry some more and put something on it to not bleed to death. As a 26-year old educated woman I would still be doing exactly that! Crying and pressing and he's like making a tourniquet  and all that. 3. The whole love thing - I just couldn't get over that. It was beyond annoying for me. Again he's a kid and he loves Annie like she was the candy he got for his birthday. Again if the characters were said to be around 19 or so, it would have been believable that a 19 year old guy loves a girl, but a small child? Nope. And then we when we meet Marzena she also seems way older because she talks about love and attraction and stuff and then you read she's 9! 9! Okay I mean I do understand kids had to see horrible things in the war but I'm sure it all would have felt more believable if they were older. 5. Language - I think the reason why the age and the love thing bothered me so so so much was because of the language used in the book. It was nothing like spoken language in 1945, I mean I wasn't alive back in the day but I'm sure people didn't introduce themselves as 'I am Otto Kaufmann son of .... Kaufmann'. The language totally game me the 1800 vibe, it was really formal and well super archaic. I believe that was the reason this book was so difficult for me to read, it all felt too heavy and too much. That's why when I say that I felt like these characters seemed older because they talked like people from 1800! And that's why it was so hard to believe this love thing, because they would speak and speak and speak this 'Oh you scoundrel', 'I shall unleash the wrath of whatever' and then they would  say something like 'Oh I do not love her, I only feel tingle in my tummy when I think of her' or something like that and them I'm like, wait....wait...what? I dunno, I mean maybe it would be more acceptable to read this style if I was older or something but now it just didn't fit me. 6. Ending - I think it was uncalled for. The entire book felt like a movie to me, where in the end the two lovers separated by war rekindle their child love.

PLUS: Joseph. Joseph. Joseph! He was great, everything you would want in a character. I got all the feels:love, hate, this soldier loyalty, heartache, most importantly - character development. He starts out by calling Otto Jew all the time and ends up realizing that after the war, there is nothing for him because of where he came from, he understands that just because he carried a Nazi name, he and all his descendants are doomed to be shamed. I absolutely loved this passage! Again apart from the unrealistic talking style, he was great!

Okay so the only thing, beside Joseph, I liked, was the way the author wrote descriptions. They were beyond beautiful! Let me just give you and example:

'...Artillery and heavy weapon fire breathe new life into the sounds of the day while taking life as they speak. (...) War awakens. (...) What is human and what is beast becomes a mystery that no one wishes to spend any time investigating.'

 (...) War, even without a voice, still was ever present. It was still killing. (...).

I mean come on, how beautiful is that?

OVERALL: Overall, I enjoyed the descriptions, and I can tell the author put a lot of research into it. I think this book should be read by much older people then I am. Maybe when I'm in my 50 - ties or something I'll re-read it again, maybe I'll understand it better but for now, I don't think I would recommend it, simply because it was too heavy and difficult to read.


What did you think of PAPER BOATS?