Prisoners of War

Prisoners of War Hey look, it s a bird It s a plane It s Superman Wait, it s my firstborn baby This is obviously my novel, so my rating and review are biased in favor That being said, I really do adore my book It tells the story of my freshman year in high school minus Matt and the kidnapping plot There are some aspects that are unrealistic, but that s intentional The whole book is my daydream in ninth grade when I had the six month panic attack The novel reflects the reality in a very tangible way.For example, the country Delais They re a small island nation, all Catholic, have a lot of mental disorders, and are the smartest people on Earth This is intentionally odd to signal the reflection from reality daydream world to the story It s small so Tara knows everyone Many of the residents have mental disorders so Tara is understood It s all Catholic because, oh boy, I never confessed this to anyone besides Gina Marinello Sweeney, I and by default, Tara have an OCD fear that all non Catholics go to Hell So, Tara has no fear of getting too attached to anyone Another is Piper and her church I was afraid Protestant readers would be offended, but that happened to me and by default Tara in real life Those kids were real They crushed my little feelings Tara I am Tara Your favorite character is Tara I refuse to accept any other answer Ahem Since she is me, she s the main character The story itself might make the reader believe it s Matt or Age, but no It s Tara.I really love Tara someone has to love me because she s so sweet Sure, she can be intense and scary like when view spoiler she didn t comfort Matt when he was nervous on his first day of school hide spoiler Hang on for or a wild ride This debut novel by Sarah Gracia, suitable for about ages 11 12 and up, is fast paced and edge of your seat suspense without sacrificing deep, emotionally relatable strong protagonists especially Tara, a 15 year old girl with severe, disabling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Prisoners of War, set in the sorta dystopian it s complicated future, is the tale of a group of teens kidnapped since birth who must escape a life of servitude under evil and sometimes slapstick hilarious reminded me of Shakespearean comedy villains who force the kids into a life of crime The teens come to find out they have very high up living relatives in various countries on this New Earth and were, most likely, not randomly selected victims of kidnapping There are plenty of punchy one liners in the dialog between all the colorful characters, pro and antagonists The very descriptive suffering that Tara endures, not only from the drama, but also from her mental illness, adds a layer of depth that many teens will appreciate Throughout the book, I kept envisioning POW as a tv show or movie, perhaps even animated like the new Carmen San Diego series It s almost like if you could take Pulp Fiction, with it s crazy villains and unlikely heroes, clean it up and make it animated, cross it with Disney s Princess Diaries, you d have a general idea of the vibe I got reading POW Super current, it would fit in with some of the Anime type films, or, if not animated, I can even picture it like a modern day Goonies or Stand By Me adolescents meet criminals, coming of age adventure But then again, what Gracia has created here is a genre all its own I m looking forward to the sequel, since there are some cliff hanger elements Two thumbs up for POW and this nothing short of genius new author. I was honored to read an early copy of this compelling and unique debut novel PRISONERS OF WAR is an enthralling story filled with adventure, yet never sacrificing heart for action Through the perspectives of Tara, Age, and Matt, Ms Gracia skillfully sculpts an emotional landscape that is never less poignant or impactful than the exterior conflict of this journey Likewise, while the narrative weaves through multiple POVs, it never loses its focus The reader will come to care about the characters within and turn pages in hope of their victory Gracia balances heavy moments with sweet interactions and humorous dialogue Without giving away plot points, I will say that the dance scene was my favorite Yet perhaps what stands out most about this book is the author s clear passion both for things literary and a general zest for life despite its hardships Personality shines through every word as her storytelling takes shape.Two thumbs up for a fantastic read Ms Gracia, now a young adult in college, is certainly an author to watch. I m not sure I ve ever read anything quite like this debut novel before This young author combines a creative storyline, Catholic theology, and mental illness into an interesting and compelling story There is a lot going on in this book humorous moments, witty dialogue, exciting escapes, dastardly villains, virtuous heroes, and an abundance of faith In ways, this reminded me of a melodrama play with some over the top moments and quirky incidents There were moments I wanted to jump in and participate with a YAY, BOO, HISS, or AWW And then, on top of all that, there is a surprising element of this book a very powerful message.Ms Gracia did a great job of drawing the reader into this futuristic story from the very first page Prisoners of War is told through the alternating perspectives of Matt, Tara and Age These young teens are all, in their own ways, strong, smart, and able to fend for themselves I also loved how the characters had a deep faith and prayed throughout the story You can tell this author loves her faith and wants to share it with the world She included several facts about saints and concepts of theology that were fascinating and could make for some great discussion topics.All that being said, the heart of this story is the mental health perspective The author, as well as, the character of Tara, suffers from OCD This is a term we hear thrown around a lot, but most people probably don t really know much about it This book does a wonderful job of showing the reader how difficult it is to live with this condition.The first chapter from Tara s perspective, Chapter 3, blew me away To see the daily struggles of this character as she tried to just make it through her day at school, was eye opening One paragraph, in particular, jumped out at me Do you ever feel like there are a bunch of wars in life, and we re all prisoners of war at some point Whether it s literally a prisoner of the battlefield, a prisoner of OCD, or a prisoner of anger, we re all at war We were all prisoners of war at some point The author actually came up with the idea for this story as she was dealing with her own OCD during high school What an incredible way to deal with adversity, to put the pain and struggles on paper and share it with others Prisoners of War is a first novel Writing a whole book is not easy, and I m quite impressed with any young person who accomplishes this task I hope Ms Gracia will continue to hone her craft and deliver many intriguing books in the future I m impressed with the strength of this young author to share so much of herself through this story, and I think this book has the potential to give inspiration to other young people who are facing struggles of their own. I have been suffering through an enormous book slump that made my reading of this book take about three months to read this book when it should have taken like, two weeks if that The book was fast paced and easy to read, it was just my book slump that made it take so long.This book was overall a very good debut, and I think that Sarah Gracia has great potential as an author, I look forward to seeing what she writes next.Main characters Tara was, in my opinion, the best of the three MCs She is slow to trust the right people and slow to stop trusting the wrong people She experiences a lot of fear, doubt and paranoia though some of that is her OCD that I found easy to identify with, though I do not have OCD There were times when I wished the book would have been a contemporary with the main focus being Tara s OCD because it seemed like that alone was a big enough obstacle to be the main conflict of the story Her flaws made it really easy to like and sympathize with her.Matt was a little bit too perfect He was a loving brother who gained Tara s trust immediately and didn t suffer any mental effects such as having trouble trusting people or finding it difficult to acclimate into normal life He was protective of Tara maybe a little bit too protective and he was already Catholic, though without his sacraments before being rescued and returned to his family He was a likeable character, but he didn t really have any significant flaws to make it easier to identify with him.Age was a funny character who sometimes helped to lighten the mood of serious scenes with his snarky comments His main flaw seemed to be that he didn t know when to shut up, and sometimes made his situation worse with his snarky comments, when he might have done better to pretend meekness so he could have avoided being beat up so much and lulled his captors into a false sense of security He met Tara when they were small children and spent the rest of his time daydreaming about her This seems like something a captive might really do.Side characters Sophie and Louie were both likeable, but like Matt it was hard to find flaws in them Each of the captives were geniuses in something, and I wasn t sure if they were naturally that way or if their captors had trained them to be like this I wonder if there will be a sequel or short story detailing why each of these children was chosen to be kidnapped Angela and Demetrius were fun, competent characters who I wish we d have gotten to know a little bit They worked together to save the captives even though it meant working against their family and country Demetrius must have been secretly loved by the people of Sterietol, since they accepted his rule without argument despite it being a 180 reversal of how Magnus had ruled.Villains Magnus was working behind the scenes and seemed to be the puppet master He was competent and very scary I wonder how he got his wife to marry him since she was so good Marcus was one of those people who seems really competent and smooth, but when he lost his temper he became a whiney child who wanted his way Unfortunately he was a whiney child who was very good with weapons and didn t mind hurting people Clementine was creepy as all get out Considering her constant sexual harassment of Matt I was surprised when she helped them in the end Because she sexually harassed Matt whenever she was in the same place as him, and even talked about how much she wanted him while she was torturing Age, I found her the creepiest of the villains Truman Shaw was first presented to us as the biggest, baddest of the kidnappers As the story went on it was revealed that he was only a cog in the machine that smarter people had built The higher authorities that were revealed over him, the less competent he became By the end of the story I truly wondered how he had managed to keep his band of genius kids captive so long since he seemed so foolish.Anne I happened to see a tweet of the author s where she described Anne as a bad therapist, prior to my getting to the part where Anne s true colors were revealed when she started threatening Tara with recommendation for euthanasia Prior to that I though she was incompetent with OCD, but doing the best she could for Tara, and so I was confused by the tweet Then I got to that part, and I got it That made her one icky, nasty person, and I think that focus could have been put on her I know that she was just a side villain, and not the one causing the main plot driven conflict, but that was a really evil thing for her to do It was a little shocking for me when she just suddenly came out with that without having had build up or hints that she was bad before I had just thought that Tara s fears that Anne would recommend her for euthanasia was her OCD, and then to find out that she had a absolutely true reason to have those fears was very surprising to me I was really wondering what happened to Anne after Tara left, and the author let me know that there is going to be a sequel yay and that it will give us about Anne and the euthanasia laws Minor characters What happened to Giovanni Was he good or bad He taught Matt about being Catholic, but was part of the organization that kept him captive his whole life, and didn t baptize him, though he probably could have since Matt was being forced to do illegal and dangerous missions and there was no one else to baptize him Was teaching Matt about God just another way to manipulate him Or did he feel bad for him Did he escape the organization and leave Matt behind Was he killed Or is he still a part of it These are questions I hope will be answered if there is a sequel.Piper was a two face We ve all met people like her I did have a little bit of sympathy for her because it seemed like she genuinely wanted to be friends with Tara, but her insecurities and desire to be with the popular kids caused her to talk behind Tara s back and drop her as a friend I hope for her fictional sake that she learns that popularity is not worth it and it s better to have a few true friends than a lot of fake friends you have to pretend to like.Matt and Tara s parents really weren t in the book all that much They seemed to be loving parents, but they were absent for most of the book because Tara and Matt kept getting kidnapped I really liked Anton He was tough and gentle at the same time, and had had his own struggles, but let those make him into a better person, rather than a bitter person.In regards to OCD I hope to heaven that the awful things said to Tara and about Tara as well as the other OCD sufferers such as Anton are exaggerations on things said to the author, because it s really hard for me to imagine people really being that awful and it hurts my heart to think people would say those things to Sarah I know that people will be awful enough to mock OCD sufferers, I just hope they aren t quite that bad in real life and I hope that they one day learn better I do not have OCD, but I found it easy to identify with Tara s struggles with obsessive thoughts, and to a lesser degree, with her compulsive actions I found her ability to function in spite of them very inspiring.World building Overall the world was like ours, but with Massachusetts legalizing murder euthanasia , and the authorities being incompetent and unable to catch criminals Plus Steritol and Delais It wasn t until page 144 about halfway though the book that we got the mention of new earth This didn t disrupt my reading, but I was confused over the fact that it was never elaborated on What happened to old earth Is new earth a clone of old earth Was it built by magic or science Or was it found in space and did people travel to it via spaceship Why did people leave old earth None of these questions needed to be answered to enjoy the book, but I was curious about the logistics of how people got from old earth to new earth and why.Writing style The writing style was simple but effective I found it easy to get into the book even though I had that stupid book slump that kept making me stop reading I think that it would make a very interesting dystopian book if the US and maybe other countries too made it legal even lawful to recommend people for euthanasia as it was legal in Massachusetts in this book As it is I did wonder why Tara s parents didn t move from Massachusetts since being there put their daughter in danger edit, Sarah, the author explained to me that euthanasia was legal across the US and probably Canada and Mexico too so they couldn t just move I missed that detail while reading Overall I really enjoyed this book and I think that the author has great potential I am looking forward to her next book. Inspiring, beautiful, riveting There are so many levels to this story, and I see myself getting from it each time I read it I definitely want to reread it It spreads an awareness about mental illness and shows what true friendship is Faith is a very strong element of the story, a driving force for the discussion of what true kindness is There is a part in which there seems to be a conflict between Protestants and Catholics, which Sarah alludes to in her review as a pro interfaith dialogue To me, it was just a conflict between mean girls and the main characters I believe it s a great example of how real love and friendship stems from loving action and kindness Religion is definitely a component in the story, but it doesn t condemn any religion Plus you are supporting a talented young rising author It s Sarah s first book, which is incredible The characters, strong one liners, and setting shift from a local town to a fantasy land are my favorite parts The antagonists reminded me of childhood story villains than real world kidnappers, but I enjoyed that aspect of it I can t wait to see how the author and characters grow in the rest of the series Props to Sarah for creating this story and being a published princess I am sitting her and finding it very hard to know how to start this review While reading this book there were some incredible moments, and at others I found myself wondering what was going on, and how is this all going to fit together And yet by the time I finished the novel, I could not help but wonder what is going to happen next in the Prisoners of War Trilogy I think this book might do for panic attacks and OCD what The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time did for Asperger Syndrome and Autism The author states It tells the story of my freshman year in high school minus Matt and the kidnapping plot There are some aspects that are unrealistic, but that s intentional The whole book is my daydream in ninth grade when I had the six month panic attack The novel reflects the reality in a very tangible way And there are some very surreal moments in the novel In some ways reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland or even The Matrix As you are reading you will wonder how far down the rabbit hole goes and is there a way out But in order to find out you will need to read the book.You cannot help but feel for Tara, the main character, and for Sarah the author and the struggle with OCD as described in the book Early in the book this section really captured my attention Prisoners of war, people who have been captured by the enemy.I wonder if Adrian s a prisoner of war since he was captured by those people It s not a war between countries, but trying to escape seems like his own personal war.Am I a prisoner of war, too I m going to die with OCD with no hope of freedom Could that be a war A lot of people describe OCD as a hostage situation I m the prisoner OCD the captor.Maybe Maybe we re all prisoners of war of some kind It is a penetrating insight especially considering the age at which the author wrote it This book does not feel perfectly polished But It is not suppose to It is written to capture the nightmare of struggling with mental illness, and how someone who does suffer sees and feels about themselves Also, how they feel others see and treat them It was also written from dream, and as such does have that disjointed, often jumpy feel But it is well done As such the book is not always an easy read, but it is worth the effort to finish, and I really do look forward to seeing what will happen in the next volume.A great first effort by a young author trying to bring awareness through her own personal struggles Well done.Read the review on my blog Book Reviews and More Note This book is part of a series of reviews 2018 Catholic Reading Plan Fourteen Year Old Matt Wakes Up In A Hospital With No Recollection Of His Past When He Meets His Parents And Twin Sister Tara, He Learns A Shocking Revelation He Was Kidnapped At Birth, And They Had Not Seen Him Since That Day Soon After, He Gains A Single Memory Of Another Hostage, His Friend Age With Tara S Help, Matt Tries To Recover His Memories To Stop The Criminal Group And Save His Best Friend But Matt S Not The Only One Dealing With A Waking Nightmare Tara Has Severe OCD And Struggles Daily Just To Function Age Is Looking For Every Opportunity To Escape And Return To His Parents, And Hopefully, The Girl He Sacrificed Everything For, Even His Freedom If That S Not Daunting Enough, His Kidnappers Start To Speak Of Their Final Plan Coming Together Even If Age Gets Out, He Can T Let The Remaining Hostages Be Left For Whatever Nefarious Purposes Are Laid Out For Them Will Matt And Tara Uncover The Secrets Of The Captors Against The Clock While Dealing With Tara S OCD Spike Can Age Manage To Slip Away And Alert The Authorities Before It S Too Late, Or Are They Doomed To Live In The Dark Forever 3.5 stars 3 on Goodreads, 4 on because I like the story and the novel in general It reminds me of the 1960s television series, Get Smart, where the bad guys and the good guys behave in ways both melodramatic and funny I agree with another reviewer that the story has some terrific lines that made me chuckle A serious note While I appreciated the opening, I thought the appearance and meshing of the long lost Matt back into his family unit was too easy In real life, Matt and his parents would certainly have had emotional complications to resolve I loved Matt, though.The character Tara was a treat, and I enjoyed seeing how her OCD affected her activities, view of the world, and relationships I had the privilege of asking the author some questions about OCD after I read up on the subject This is the author s first published full length work, so I expect that the next volume in her series will improve on a few style issues like misuse of words as dialogue tags that many debut authors have In the meantime, I commend her on her ability to work information about OCD into an entertaining story without being preachy about it. Gracia s writing took me a little while to get into, but once pieces started falling into place, such as that the villains were meant to be ridiculous kind of like Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events and that this book is set in the future, I began to appreciate the book It is a futuristic, fantasy like novel, so as a reader, one must learn to suspend belief in this work.My favourite part of this book is the one liners Seriously So many good one liners Such as view spoiler I m insulted You took me away from my poetry notebooks This is not okay The English major in me was very tickled by this or I am technically a mass murderer By one of the villains Very Olaf y I appreciate this or, another quote from a villain You bleed a very appealing shade of red or, my favourite quote of the entire book So, the princess saves the world alone, waiting for her prince to come Sadly, he s still tied to a tree hide spoiler

Sarah Gracia always had OCD and ASD, but was diagnosed with the former when she was nine and the latter when she was eighteen If that isn t enough, she was diagnosed with depression when she was nineteen.She daydreamed the events of Prisoners of War her high school freshman year while suffering the six month panic attack Tara goes through in the book and finished writing the novel right before

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