|Series: stand alone
||Genre: historical fiction, drama
|Release date: November 21st 2017
||Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
|Rating: 1/5 – DNF
||Author’s website: http://www.ogdenimprint.com|
Sixty-four years have passed since the end of WWII and the rampart walls of the former Jewish Ghetto, TEREZÍN, have yet to divulge all the secrets they were built to hide. That is until graffiti dauber Briney Ruza begins having connections with the walls she paints on. Each graffiti is posted on social media as part of her own cheeky game. One particular painting catches the interest of ageing Ghetto surviver Evzen Kravitz, who has never given up hope of one day finding the one item stolen from the parents he lost boarding a death train to Auschwitz. Briney is enticed to Prague thinking this interest in her painting comes from her estranged mother. There she faces the truth…and Evzen. Together, through their testy relationship, they uncover much more than expected – including corrupt dealings that fleeced many owners and descendants wishing to reclaim property lost to the Nazis and the scheme financing the rise of the neo-nazis. Briney also has her own personal secrets and when she meets Goth lesbian Zoja in Prague, the lives of everyone she meets will forever change…or forever be lost.
I received a copy from Netgalley, and had really high hopes for it. Altough 20th century history not exactly my favorite period, I’m still pretty intrigued to learn about it, and since the Nazis were involved in the story, I readied myself for some serious emotional roller coaster ride. Also, I love graffities and used to do some skitches myself in the past, so when I read the blurb I was eager to put my hands on this one. Sadly it didn’t deliver, so I decided to ditch it at 35%, which doesn’t happen to me often. I usually like to finish a book no matter what, but this one just put me off. Since I didn’t finish the book, my review won’t be complete and so I’ll focus on why this didn’t work out for me. I have to say however, that I have nothing against sex in books, or same sex relationships if they are important for the plot or if they are written in a good way, and didn’t mean to offend anyone with my criticism of this book.
Briney spent most of her life in foster care, and when she was old enough decided to make a living for herself. Not that she succeeded. She lives in Australia, shares an apartment with Zack with whom she has a realtionship, altough she knows she doesn’t love him. Living from one day to the next without having a permanent job, Briney spends her time creating graffities and hosts a kind of secret hunt thing on her MySpace page. One day, after finishing one of her works, she falls from a train and glimpses into an another life. From that on she can feel past lives and memories coming off of walls/street/statues when she touches them. On that day she receives a mysterious message from the Czech Republic, inquiring about the Goose. Briney, trying to figure out who the stranger is, replies, assuming it’s her long lost mother who finally contacted her. When her suspicion is confirmed, with the help from Zack she hopps on a plane and flies over the world to meet her mother for the first time. But what awaits for her is not exactly what she expected. She is being invited to Terezín, where the ghetto used to be during WWII. Briney here faces the torture and feelings of people long deceased. She briefly meets Evzen who helds the key to her mother, and who is keen about learning what Briney knows about the Goose. Upon arriving to Prague Briney meets Zoja and the two are instantly attracted to each other. Zoja offers to guide her and show her Prague while Briney tries to cut her ties with Zack – who handles all the money, hence making it hard for her to get away from him.
The book has a strong start with a scene from 1943, when Evzen and his family are waiting to be sent off, but his father saves his life instead, paying off a corrupt guard. It was gripping and gut-wrenching, I could almost taste the desperation. It makes the reader eager to know what happens next. So we get Briney introduced, a graffiti artist with a hard past, and not a very likeable personality. Or maybe just the writing that makes her so unbearable. She can only whine and bitch about her circumstances but doesn’t really tries to do anything about it. She needs the help of others to even stay afloat and keep her place and life together. Barely. With the constant swearing and using the word ‘like’ she feels more like a teen than a twentysomething woman. Enter Zack in the picture, who is just as much of a loser and wants nothing else than to do nothing, hang out with junkies and have some sex every once in a while. And Briney puts up with him, altough it’s hard to say why. He for some reasons gets money to help Briney get to Prague and spends it like there is no tomorrow, but he doesn’t want to give Bri any, hence tying her to himself in an attempt (I guess) to keep someone attached to him. So he could feel all important. Altough when he senses she is getting out of his hands, starts to act like a total douchebag – not that he was any better from the start, but whatever.
In Prague they meet Zoja. She is actually kind of likeable, with her goth style and radiating self confidence. No wonder she enchants Briney from the first moment they meet. It’s pretty obvious they are going to have a thing, but everything happens a bit too fast, and that might put some people off. Not because of our society berating the LGBT community and these kind of relationships are frowned upon, but because when you expect to read a gripping, fast paced, heart wenching historical fiction, you don’t want to have your appetite ruined by stupid scenes which has absolutely nothing to do with the plot and instead of being sexy are just downright weird.
And we also have Evzen, who lives a lonely life in Terezín, are grumpy and unfriendly and has an undying love for Briney’s mother whom he doesn’t want to lose no matter what. Even if it means that he has to act like a selfish, jealous bastard.
Without all the love/sex scenes and with some editing this book could have been interesting despite the unlikable characters. But when not even the plot can keep you to read on, then you have to accept the sad reality and move on to something better. This book fails to be heart wenching, interesting, not even that fast paced and Prague probably deserves a much better introduction.
If you are interested in some czech history and art, and don’t mind some steamy scenes in your historical fiction which has absolutely no point regarding the plot, and can get over the fact that you can’t even symphatize with the MC (or any other character, really) then you probably won’t be disappointed.