The Only Thing to Fear – Review

He was a Nazi. An Eckhart. The son of the man who had orchestrated her mother’s death. She couldn’t trust him. Could she?

The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond was one of my pre-orders for October. It actually caused me some stress due to a shipping problem, but everything managed to resolve itself, and as soon as I saw the book, I fell in love!

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.

As soon as I got my (greedy) hands on this book, the first thing I noticed was the stunning detail. It doesn’t come across in the online photos but the cover is really beautiful. There’s also this lovely touch:

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But the cover is far surpassed by the actual book. I have to say my favorite part of this book was the main character, Zara St. James (whose name has a lovely ring to it). The first thing I remarked about her was her quiet defiance:

“Her accent had always been atrocious, which didn’t bother her in the least. On most days she rather enjoyed offending the Germans’ delicate ears.”

But what I came to admire most about her was her wariness. Yes, her wariness. It sounds like an odd thing to say, but too many main characters are too eager or not cautious enough in trusting someone they previously thought to be an enemy. Zara was perhaps the first character in a LONG time where I didn’t want to scream at her not to get ahead of herself. She has a smart head on her shoulders, that girl. She also didn’t have the best luck or even decent luck: in many cases it was downright bad. But it added to the realism of the story and showed me that she could get herself out of tough situations.

The plot of this story is fantastic. I love the historical twist! At one point bomb after bomb was dropping and I was tearing through the pages wondering how all these elements were going to come together. At the last climax of the story, my heart was literally pounding. LITERALLY POUNDING. Hats off to you, Caroline.

Would I recommend this book? To everyone. Everyone.

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