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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond ARC Review

3/5 Stars
Details of the Book:
ebook, approx. 288 pages (according to Goodreads)
Published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. 
Expected Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository |

Thank you Netgalley and Scholastic Press for my eARC copy of this book

Synopsis: In a stunning reimagining of history, debut author Caroline Tung Richmond weaves an incredible story of secrets and honor in a world where Hitler won World War II.

It's been nearly 80 years since the Allies lost WWII in a crushing defeat against Hitler's genetically engineered super soldiers. America has been carved up by the victors, and 16-year-old Zara lives a life of oppression in the Eastern America Territories. Under the iron rule of the Nazis, the government strives to maintain a master race, controlling everything from jobs to genetics. Despite her mixed heritage and hopeless social standing, Zara dreams of the free America she's only read about in banned books. A revolution is growing, and a rogue rebel group is plotting a deadly coup. Zara might hold the key to taking down the Führer for good, but it also might be the very thing that destroys her. Because what she has to offer the rebels is something she's spent her entire life hiding, under threat of immediate execution by the Nazis. 

In this action-packed, heart-stopping novel of a terrifying reality that could have been, Zara must decide just how far she'll go for freedom.

I was really expecting not to like this book. I've never read an alternate history before and when I read that this was about if Hitler won WWII, I was very apprehensive. To my surprise, I did find myself involved and enjoying it. There was drama, action, magic, and a tiny bit of romance. I assume because it's geared to ages 12 & Up that there wasn't many gruesome details but I think it really could have benefited from more of those types of details. Quick read, if you guys like alternative history and magic check it out.


1) I was really intrigued by the world in this book, I've often heard the phrase that if Hitler won half the world would be speaking German. In general, I've often wondered how different our world today would have been if that happened, and this book really thought a lot of it out. It scared me and intrigued me at the same time. The plot itself and the details that were there about the world is what made me really push this book to 3 stars instead of two.

2) I'm glad that the romance was not a huge part in this book. Normally I'm a sucker for the mushy stuff but it was clear that this book was about much more than the couple, and I think it really worked. Also, how it started happening gradually and there are no "I love you's" exchanged.


1) My main reason for not fully liking this book is really in the lack of details. For this kind of plot, I think this book needed to be longer. There were so many details that needed to be covered and I felt like the end happened at an odd place. I'm pretty sure that this book is supposed to be a stand alone book which is why I think it really would benefited from being longer so more of the details and descriptions could have been better developed.

Same with all of the characters, they had interesting lives and backstories and I wanted to know more about them but there just wasn't enough time. I wanted more information about Zara's father and why he and her mother separated. If he was still alive and more about his powers. I understand that not all of the characters can have a full background but since Zara is our protagonist I think it would make sense if we knew more about her lineage and about her powers.

Without more of a backstory, descriptions, training time, the book lost it's complexity and mystery. Everything is fixed to quickly and easily. It's all wrapped up nicely into a nice pretty bow and I have no doubt that the author could have done better than that.

2) I felt that the magical aspect in this book was really out of place. I was more interested in the world and the people and the powers I think is what made everything too simple and clean. I wanted more grit and drama. Having magic in a plot can do one of two things in a story, either make it really cool and more dramatic or make it really cheesy and simple. Unfortunately this book did the latter.

3) This has a lot to do with my first point, I felt that ending kind of dropped off. I know that this was intentional but with the rate of the events in the book it just seemed like a cop out.

Favorite Quotes/Moments: 

1) "Mr. and Mrs. Talley had been married for thirty years when Mr. Talley was killed the same night as Zara's mom. Zara had only a few blurry memories of him, but she remembered how he would give her piggyback rides and tell her great tales of the American Revolution that his grandfather had passed on to him. Sometimes Uncle Red would join in on the storytelling, too, and his voice would hit a crescendo when he spoke of Paul Revere's midnight ride; Zara would fall asleep dreaming of rebels and revolutionaries.

2) "I better go," she said, about to turn away, but Bastian caught her by the shoulders.

"Wait a second."

Zara waited, even though she had to go. She felt Bastian's fingers dig into her shoulder, ever so gently.

"Be careful tonight. Please, Zara," he said.

"I will."

"If anything happened to you..."

Zara stared up at him. He had never looked at her like this before, like he was memorizing the planes of her face. Did he...did he really care so much?

"I'll be careful. I promise," she said.

"I'll hold you to it."

3) "What would I do without you?"

"Win," she replied simply.

Bastian smiled, his dimples deepening. "Win. I plan on it." His head head tilted to one side. "Then I'll come back.

Despite the hurt, Zara returned his smile. "I'll hold you to it, Eckhart."

"You promise?"

A spark of hope entered her eyes. "Promise."


  1. I definitely agree there could have been more backstory, but the book does explain a bit about her father. Zara says she considered looking him up to see if he was alive but decides she'd rather not know since he didn't seem to care about her. Also, she states that her mother told her about him. Her mother and him had an affair while he was in the military and stationed on the east coast. When the affair resulted in her mother's pregnancy he left them. Her mother said he had no powers of his own but his father(Zara's grandfather) could read minds.

    1. I guess I missed that detail about her father not having powers, although to me that doesn't make sense. If she somehow had dual powers, it should have been strong through her family line..but maybe I just misunderstood. I don't know. Either way, I just wanted more of a backstory in general about her father and grandfather.

  2. Yeah, me too. And the father thing didn't make sense to me either. I thought maybe her mom might be hiding something , but again, not enough backstory to ever clear that up.