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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Fly Boy

Author: Eric Walters
Originally Published: 2011
Publisher: Puffin Canada, an imprint of Penguin
Source: Received review copy from publisher

The Story

When seventeen year old Robbie learns that his father is a POW in WWII, he is determined to enlist. Convincing his mother that he’s gone to boarding school, he instead finds his way to Manitoba where he starts training in the Royal Canadian Air Force. As he excels at everything in training, and as navigators are in great need on the front, Robbie soon finds himself shipped off to England. Unfortunately, he isn’t to be a pilot as he had long been hoping to be… until an attack on his plane leaves his pilot near death. Now Robbie must put everything he ever learned about flying a plane to help get himself and his crew back to England safely.

The Response

I was really excited to get this book. First of all, yay Canadian author. I have another of Walters’ books in my TBR pile, but haven’t yet read it. Have heard good things about his stuff, so was quite excited to finally read something he’s written. Second of all, a book taking place during WWII. And I do so love me those WWI and WWII books – ESPECIALLY when they are Young Adults books about one of the wars. So yay, two good things going for it automatically! I picked it up with every intention of enjoying it.

Which, for the most part I did.

It was a good story – thoroughly enjoyable. Lots of action. Likable characters. Lots of good stuff going on for it.

There were, however, two things that I held issue to with this book. And the first thing is probably totally my fault. Because I kept comparing it to Arthur Slade’s Megiddo’s Shadow. It was really hard not to. They both are about Canadian boys during one of the world wars. Both boys are underage but sneak into the army anyway, and were both motivated to do so because a family member was either killed or captured in that same war. They both did so without the permission of their parents – and had they told their parents, they wouldn’t have received parental approval. And neither boy ends up in the division of the army that they want to be in. The biggest difference was that in this case, the boy ended up doing what he had initially joined the army to do, before getting kicked out of the army and sent back to Canada because they discovered he was too young.

So yes, I spent a good time comparing the two books, and as Slade’s Megiddo’s Shadow is one of my favourites, well… it was hard for me to find Fly Boy as awesome. While Fly Boy was quite good in its own right, it just didn’t have that SPARK that Slade’s books have.

The other thing that bothered me about this book was the excessive! use! of! exclamation! points! There were passages where every other sentence ended in an exclamation point. I feel like the author was trying to express how much excitement was going on, and to make the pace of those passages have much more emphasis than the rest of the book… but there are ways too do that without over usage of exclamation points. For me, the excessive amount of exclamation points just drew away from the parts that really actually were more important to the story.

But, that said, there were some really good things about the books. It didn’t over-romanticize the war. It wasn’t all about the honour and pride that can sometimes be associated with books about the world wars. Walters did a very good job of showing how terrifying it would have been to be working on a team in a plane that was bombing various locations during the war, not knowing whether you would survive your mission, and knowing that a good portion of the other planes going out with you would never be coming back. Chilling thoughts. It certainly gave me a deeper understanding of what my grandfather would have gone through when he was a pilot in WWII.

I especially really, really loved the team that Robbie ended up working with. In fact, I may have fallen in love with the team’s commander, Jed. I really loved the dynamics between Robbie and Jed – you could tell right from the beginning that the two would get along just spectacularly, and although there is the dynamics of an almost father-son relationship going on there, there’s also a good friendship there. And that depth of relationship, though it was only present in about half of the book, was really what made this book worthwhile for me.

The Bottom Line

Recommended to young teen boys – I have no doubt they would thoroughly enjoy it. Would also recommend it to others looking for good Canadian war stories.

Other Reviews

whatchareading. Have you reviewed this book on your blog? Let me know and I’ll add your link.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 6:58 am February 18, 2011.
Category: Young Adult
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