The Enemy Above: A Novel of World War II

240p. Scholastic. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545857826; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545861489.
Gr 5–7—The year is 1942, and 12-year-old Anton, his bubbe, and his uncles are forced to flee their small Ukrainian village with other Jewish residents when the Nazis invade. They seek refuge in secret caves that are known only to locals, sneaking out at night to find water for their survival. Meanwhile, Major Von Duesen, a Nazi commander whose mission it is to capture or kill as many Jews as possible, is outwitted time and again by Anton and his kin. Chapters alternate between Anton, who often seems wise beyond his young years, and Von Duesen, a caricature villain who will stop at nothing, including personal ruin, to capture the boy and seek revenge. Scenes of sabotage and suspense, including several lucky escapes and a couple of disturbing murder scenes, will keep readers turning the pages. However, the breakneck action supersedes any real character development. Although Anton struggles with issues of faith, longing for his missing father, and loss, these themes are dealt with only on a cursory level.
VERDICT Set in an interesting locale, this will satisfy historical fiction fans who want page-turning action without much depth.

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