Hello Internet. Welcome back for Review #2. And for my second trick, reaching into a genre I would rather not talk about, historical fiction.
So, I don’t really like historical fiction. I find that history is engaging enough to read about, not least the Second World War. So much death, pain, and destruction is not only sad and a bit chilling, but also very engaging to read and learn about. Adding in some fictional characters and sometimes historical inaccuracies while attempting to show the past in a new, more meaningful light is pointless, as the past is already so meaningful on its own, and already has multiple viewpoints which can be explored. But along comes Henderson’s Boys and gives me a right old boot up the backside with a steel-toed swastika that might as well have “humble pie” written on it in bold.
The author for this series is none other than Robert Muchamore, an author who was awesome at his first two popular series but then sort of dropped the ball when he tried to remake one of them. Henderson’s Boys is told in the same vein as Cherub, his other series, and I suppose it should as it is set in the same timeline. The story goes that a young boy in German occupied France stumbles across the home of what he later finds out to be a British secret agent. They then bash their way out of France, and at risk of spoiling the ending, kick some Fascist butt with the help of a few newfound friends.
So the plot doesn’t exactly represent what it was like to be in France at that time, with a lot more focus on whipping ass and taking names, but this is what a war-fiction novel should be like! Not boring as bat droppings feelings (*moan*), we can already see the war was a terrible time! Just look at the death toll if you want to feel like gum scraped off a shiny gestapo boot. What we want is an awesome action book with equally relatable and badass characters and some really screwed-up villains. So that’s why I’m a big steampunk fan as well.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know that the war was a bad thing, and know that to take the piss out of such a horrendous thing is something that some people consider insensitive. I know that there are some really touching books out there that show exactly how terrible and awful things got, and the unforgivable things that people have done to other people. But just think for a second about that Quentin Tarantino movie, Inglorious Basterds. This shows a terrible time in a frankly enjoyable film with deep characters and an awesome plot. Is it not a great movie, even though it takes this terrible time and makes a fun yet gritty movie out of it?
Now there is always a place for the “soppy” historical fiction, the touching, well written and meaningful one. But I just have to say that if more of the few historical fictions that come out each year were as action-packed and kick-ass as this one, I would read a lot more of this genre.
Henderson’s Boys: The Escape was published in 2009 by Hodder Children’s Books and can be found on Amazon here.
Yours: J.M. Pear