Top critical review
Solid 6 out of 10
on 27 February 2015
Please note, this review in full can be found at - https://ablogaboutkidsbooks.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/first-review-teen-read/
To surmise, Hitler’s Angel covers the peril-ridden mission assigned to two young ‘Secret Agents’ who have escaped Nazi occupied Europe, and who are refugees in London. At the request of the upper echelons of British Government, they are given the task of returning to Germany to retrieve a young girl (the ‘Hitler’s Angel’ of the title), who, for reasons concealed from both main protagonists and readers, is key to Hitler’s emotional focus and – by default – the Nazi war effort.
This is Osborne’s first book, but coming from a history of screenwriting, I felt enough confidence in a general storytelling ability, to invest some reading time. I was also confident given the subject matter; a key period in world history with plenty of potential for intrigue, action and plot.
Whilst not life changing, Hitler’s Angel is a good yarn and the two main characters, Otto (15, male), and Leni (14, female) are likeable enough. They approach intensive physical training with the trepidation one would expect from teenagers in a precarious situation. Their dialogue lends a decent pace, their disagreements plausible, and their own sense of displacement, gives them some shape. As the book and the mission continues, they begin to question their roles and the wisdom of their leaders, opening up some interesting and valid ethical dilemmas. If I were a teenager starting to test the lines of authority, Otto and Leni could make good or bad companions (depending upon your point of view!) Whilst a smudge insipid in places, both characters are generally likeable and command the reader to care about them. Angelika, the young girl and object of the exercise, does remain ‘on the page’ somewhat, but her lack of dimension simply doesn’t ADD to the book, rather than out and out detraction.
On a character level, Hitler’s Angel doesn’t shy away from brutal descriptions, violent commanders calling the shots, and an ‘at all costs’ wartime mentality. As mentioned above, for a teen reader, I would suggest the book could pose moral questions. For adults, such queries may prove to be more searching. I personally found the colder, calculated aspects of both British and German senior command a little depressing, but that’s not to say that Hitler’s Angel doesn’t have a role in prompting debate.