“For in the darkest of nights, we shall strike – and strike again.”
Return to the world of The Only Thing to Fear!
In the eighty years since the Axis powers won World War II with their genetically engineered super soldiers, America has changed drastically in the hands of the unforgiving victors. But there are still those who aspire to what the country used to stand for: freedom for all.
In the Western American Territories, Chinese American Ren Cabot has lost nearly everything to Imperial Japan’s rule. After the public execution of his mom for treason five years ago, Ren lives under constant scrutiny of the Empire, afraid that one wrong step will rip apart what remains of his family for good. However, when a chance encounter with a resistance group offers Ren an opportunity to save lives and quite possibly topple the government, he agrees to their deadly plot. But his role will lead him straight into the heart of enemy, and if caught, death would be a much better fate than what the Empire will do to him . . .
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Live in Infamy is an alternate history where the United States lost World War II. Divided in different territories, America is under different regime. The Nazi held the Eastern States; the Japanese Imperial Court take the Western States; and Middle America states are under the rule of Italy.
Ren Cabot is a Chinese-American living in a Western American territories that is controlled by Imperial Japan. At a young age, he witnessed his mother executed for treason. Now at sixteen, he and his father lives under constant scrutiny of the Empire, waiting for their one wrong move. When an opportunity to help the resistance came to Ren, he pose as a tailor working inside the home of the Japanese leaders. There he help to plot a way to kidnap the Japanese Princess and infiltrate Alcatraz – a place where Japanese held their experiments to produced powerful soldiers for the Imperial Army.
This is my second foray to Caroline Tung Richmond’s works. The first one is her debut novel, The Darkest Hour, which I also devoured reading. In Live in Infamy, Caroline continue to write alternative history for young readers with ease. She clearly know what she is doing. Her writing not only shows how intensive her research but also her alternate version fit so well to all the historical backgrounds where her story dated. She easily created a believable versions of an alternate history in her novels.
Through Ren, Caroline Tung Richmond show the power of written words. The part where Ren fight the Imperial Japan under a pen name, sharing his words to inspire others to fight, reminds me of our own history here in the Philippines. Back when our country is still under different regime, some of our heroes also fought battle using the power of literature and written words. Ren’s fight become an echo of our own history, making his struggle easily close to heart.
Caraline Tung Richmond’s simple and straight-forward narrative will surely appeal to middle-grade readers, but older readers might find it more on the side of telling-than-showing, especially near the end when the story started to reveal things and tried to tie up loose ends.
Though alternate history, Live in Infamy is still a gritty and terrifying story that tells a reality of every wars. It is a glimpse of an alternate history that can easily be a looming future to some parts of the world.
* This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher, Scholastic Press Philippines in exchange for my honest opinion about the book.