A Lack of the Realities of War

filled star filled star filled star star unfilled star unfilled
libbypaulson Avatar


The Silent Unseen, set in WWII-Poland in 1944, follows Maria, a Polish girl who recently escaped from a German concentration camp, and Kostya, a Ukrainian boy in the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgency Army). Due to unforeseen circumstances, the two are forced to work together.

This book was fine. I don't have a better adjective to describe it – it was fine. I don't tend to seek out war-based (especially WWI or WWII) historical fiction but the summary on this one caught my eye. I'm a graduate student who studies Russian history and I hadn't heard of the conflict between the Polish Resistance and the UPA before. However, this book, while being good enough to hold my attention for long enough for me to read it in its entirety, wasn't anything noteworthy or memorable for me in the long run.

The biggest issue I took from this book is that it just wasn't grim/bleak enough for a WWII narrative. Now I understand that this is a YA novel but I really didn't get the sense of how dark this war was. The main character, Maria, spent two and a half years in a German concentration camp but that barely affects her character/behavior (except for a scene or two), which doesn't make sense to me. While yes, there are dark moments, it isn't what I expected from a book on such a heavy topic. I think a good example of what I was expecting was something similar to a Ruta Sepetys' book, who also writes YA. Between Shades of Grey is a notable example.

The characters and plot were just okay, as I said above. Unlike Ruta Sepetys' books, where I often find myself thinking of them long after reading, I don't think that will be the case with this book. While I applaud the author for crafting a narrative about the conflicts within Poland during WWII, this was ultimately a 3 star read for me.