Reviewed by Tomi Alo
Fate plays a cruel, twisted game in this compelling historical thriller.
“Oh, I hate this war. It’s brutal, sick. It twists us all into people we’d rather not be.”
War can have a deep, lasting effect on a person, a community, a world. It can change people in any number of ways, for better for worse, and for in between. War takes something from everyone, in one way or another.
A beguiling mystery with a web of secrets and shocking twists, The Violence of Reason is first a tale of freedom and survival. The novel delves into the intricate nature of trust and loyalty during a time of war. It shows that battles aren’t just fought on the frontlines but also in our neighborhoods, homes, and workplaces, where our friends suddenly become our foes and trust becomes a deadly commodity.
The Violence of Reason follows Norill Haugen, a Norwegian spy during the Nazi occupation of Norway. Norill joined the Milorg, the Norwegian resistance, as a way to help liberate and free her country. She works as a translator and courier for the resistance with other members of her resistance cell. Things were going as normal as they could be in a time of such uncertainty and turmoil.
But when Nazi soldiers show up to schedule piano lessons with Norill’s teacher—the house of Vinni Nases, which serves as their resistance cell—things take a turn. Has Norill’s cover been compromised? Are they here to arrest Norill and the other members of the resistance? Has someone betrayed them?
Author Pete Planisek expertly depicts how war changes everyday people and the effects it has on a divided society. Of the several complex characters, I found Norill as perhaps the most intriguing. She is courageous, resilient, and loyal to those she loves despite secrets and betrayal. Her journey is a stark reminder of how much a life can change.
The author showcases an ability to convey the emotions and personalities of each character through well-balanced and realistic dialogue. The only issue I had with the book—a slight one—is that because so much is happening all at once, it can get a little overwhelming at some points. One unexpected twist is followed so quickly by another that it makes it difficult to savor the first surprise. Norill has been in a constant state of chaos from the moment she was arrested. She can’t catch a break, and thus we don’t either.
All in all, The Violence of Reason is an intense and evocative story that takes readers on a journey through the hearts of dynamic characters, exploring themes of morality, loyalty, and justice.
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