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Katipo Joe Bk3. Wolf’s Lair by Brian Falkner. Pub. Scholastic, 2022

March 12, 2022 Comments off

The epic conclusion to this action packed spy thriller about Katipo Joe, a teenage spy during WW2 whose skill and intellect outwitted the Nazi enemy.

In book 1 he escaped Nazi Germany with his mother, witnessed the Blitz and was trained as a spy to kill a leading Nazi in France. In book2 he penetrated the Hitler Youth Movement and was accepted to compete with other leading German youth to become Hitler’s successor at the Eagles Nest in the Austrian Alps. Both books are great action stories and are reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

Wolf’s Lair is Hitler’s hideout and strategy fortress in East Prussia from which he masterminded Operation Barbarossa or the attack on Russia.

Joe is ensconced as Hitler’s youth successor under the name of Jurgen and he travels to Wolf’s Lair on Hitler’s special train Der Fuhrersonderzug and the action and tension is plentiful. His mission is to kill Hitler and we know from the start he is going to fail.

Arrival at Die Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Lair) with his German youth classmates Thomas, Heike and Sophie is tense as they witness the invasion of Russia, the persecution of the Jews and Poles and the cruelty of the SS.

The highlight of this final episode is the personification of Hitler and his Nazi cronies Himmler, Goring Goebbels and Bormann, the biggest challenge Brian Falkner had with this novel. I think he succeeds but you the reader can decide for yourself.

The series as a whole has been the best action writing I have read from a New Zealand writer and rivals any overseas novelists. Don’t miss this one or the whole series, it is riveting.

Needless to say all the loose ends and side stories are sorted out as is Joe’s future. There is a couple of moving characters in Sophie and Polish girl Felka. If you miss this you will kick yourself.

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne.

October 7, 2015 Comments off

boy top mountainThe Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne. Imprint Random House, 2015.

A novel with the same power as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Just as the son of the Kommandant of the Death camp was lured innocently to the gas chamber with his Jewish friend, so 7 year old Pierrot is seduced into the Nazi world of secrecy, suspicion and brutality.

Pierrot’s journey is an astonishing transformation from sensitive son of a German soldier and French mother to a child monster with the same qualities of any Nazi. John Boyne documents¬† Pierrot’s life from 7 years old in Paris in 1936 to the end of the War in 1945 at Berchtesgaden and shows how easy it is for the innocent to be corrupted.

The story and transformation of French boy Pierrot with a Jewish boy as his best friend to the loathsome Pieter whom he becomes, is simply told in three parts and is very understandable for students of senior primary and intermediate age but is clearly for high school students.

It is riveting and John Boyne builds the tension throughout but the deeper stuff like the reasons for the Jewish persecutions will need to be explained. Heavens it needs to be.

The character and decline and fall of Hitler is neatly depicted from the time he tells Pierrot “work will set us free” to the crazed lunatic who bundles into a car on his way to the final days in the bunker. A description of Hitler eating “like a rat chewing his way along a cob of corn” is priceless.

The ending is deserving  but you will have to read the novel to find out what happens.

Don’t miss this novel it is superb.