Saturday, 3 June 2017

Cova Reviews | Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys

Hello everyone! It's time for a new book review :) You'd be rare if you didn't already know about Ruta Sepetys' multiple award-winning young adult, historical fiction novel Salt to the Sea. At least, if you frequent the page Goodreads, you'll know it won last year's (2016) Goodreads Choice Award for young Adult Fiction. It had such a good reception I had to read it! Moreover, I listened to it on audiobook -thus it contributes to the 2017 Audiobook Challenge I am taking part in!

"Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.
Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.
As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.
Yet not all promises can be kept.
Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope." (Goodreads)

Salt to the Sea is categorised as Young Adult, but I wouldn't say it's YA. It's perfectly readable by young readers, of course, but I'd rather classify it as adult fiction. It just doesn't fit my standards for YA that tightly. I think people any age can and should read it because it is a book about courage, about keeping forward. 

It tells the story of a group of young adults that have to leave everything the ever worked for in order to save their lives and find shelter from World War II. The author did a great job painting every character's background, and the brutality of their stories and what they go through as the novel progresses is heart-breaking -even more if you think of all the people that had to live that in real life: families torn apart, lives wasted to the cold and to armies they had nothing to do with... This book opens your eyes to the cruelty of governments that don't care about their people but merely about their States, but it also sends a message that people should fight for what they believe in, and not just comply to the norm and what everyone around them seems to follow. 

The characters in Salt to the Sea were developed wonderfully. I really connected with them in a way that made me know their secrets, understand why they would keep them and wonder when, if ever, they would free them. Every one of the four main characters was completely different from the others and so very genuine. I loved how the author used the four of them to show the reader WWII from completely different viewpoints, and how she merged their stories as a metaphor for saying we are all people, and ultimately your believes, what you stand for or where you come from won't have a say in what nature makes of you. I think this story is important for understanding that only peace and understanding can make a difference. 
I thought the writing was good -easy to follow. Ruta Sepetys was able to write from 4 different voices making them easily differentiable through style, which I thought was awesome. The story started off very appealing, but towards the middle I found myself struggling to keep reading, although I thought the ending was satisfying enough and I liked it. 

Something else that I appreciated was that it talks about a big historical tragedy that it's not usually known, and the history of it is explained further at the end of the book. That made me learn, and I am grateful for it :)

About the audiobook version, I have to say I was a bit confused as to whose story was being told when because I have the worst memory regarding character names! But something that I really appreciated was that it has different narrators for every character, so at the end of the day you learn their voices and the way they speak and everything is so much clearer :P I loved that this makes the characters sound truly unique, and every narrator gave their character something special to remember them for. I really enjoyed listening to this book on audio! However, it's worth noting that the narrators speak extremely slowly in this book, so it might be a good idea to turn the speed up to 1.25 -that way it seems like they speak at normal speed 😂

Ultimately, I gave this book 4 stars (though I had on Goodreads as a 3.5 for quite a while). I really do recommend it to historical fiction lovers!

Have you got any recommendations for historical fiction, YA I must read? I am always looking for excuses to enlarge my TBR! ;)

Happy reading!

If you'd like to try this audiobook or any other one for free, you can follow the link below and get two free audiobooks plus 30% off any other audiobook you may like - a month's Audible membership trial, all free of charge and you can cancel at any time! I'll get a small something is you use my link :)

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  1. Great review! I haven't read this one yet, but I loved her other stories. It definitely sounds like another great historical fiction story!

    1. Thanks! I haven't read anything else by her, but I did enjoy this one!


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