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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Isabella's Airman by Sofia Grey


Time travel student Isabella Gillman is about to embark on her most challenging assignment--leaping back to 1941 to observe World War II. The rules are simple: don’t get emotionally involved, and don’t interfere.

She breaks the first rule when she falls in love with rear-gunner Davy Porteous. The second is on its way out as well when she realizes history says he won’t survive the war. Torn between the fundamental laws of her society and the man she loves, Isabella faces a harsh reality: does she risk both their lives for a future that may not happen?

She can’t predict the results if she corrupts the timelines, but without her actions, Davy is out of time.



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One of the many things I have come to admire about Sofia Grey's work is that nothing is ever formulaic. Even within the same series she mixes things up and throws in unexpected twists so that you never quite know what to expect. Even when you have a fairly good notion of how the story will turn out in the end it is rarely possible to predict how it will get there. This story does not disappoint on those scores, for even though the blurb tells us that Isabella isn't going to be the mild, meek, obedient, and conformist girl that she initially appears to be in the book, it's still a bit surprising to see just how she evolves. Nutshell review: A wonderful read that will take you through a gamut of emotions. Your heart will be warmed, it will be broken, but in the end I think it will rejoice at the clever ways in which the cast of characters works around the obstacles placed in their path.



At first glance Isabella is not at all the sort of person you would expect to be a daring rule-breaker, nor the sort of person you would think could ever have the sort of courage it will take to do the things she will eventually have to do. When we first meet her she is painfully shy, socially awkward, and practically afraid of her own shadow it seems. To be fair, she is quite young and hasn't been out on her own away from the ever-vigilant gaze of authority figures before but we might still have expected a bit more self-confidence from her given her status as an advanced student. As she acclimates to the time period and becomes more comfortable with socializing we do begin to see glimmers of her inner strength. She is still adorably shy and uncertain with Davy as their romance develops, but she increasingly demonstrates that she does indeed have what it takes to rise to the occasion and do what she needs to in a crisis even when inside she's a terrified, screaming, hysterical mess.

Though he isn't mentioned in the blurb, Marc Gallagher plays an integral role in this book as well. I won't go into detail so as not to be spoilery, but it's fair to say that his role is large enough that it's a little surprising that his presence isn't even mentioned in the blurb. Then again, before his prequel was added to the series, he perhaps wasn't as much of a central figure as he's become. Which brings up a point that I likely should mention, namely that currently this book has been re-released under a different publisher with a new cover and possibly in a revised state. I still only own the original version and I can't speak to whether or not anything has changed significantly in the newer version, though I suspect it hasn't based on the minimal changes made to Lila's Wolf when it was re-issued. However, having recently re-read this book after reading/re-reading Marc's Conflict and Lila's Wolf I do believe that Marc's role has evolved and become more central to the series as a whole from what I remember it being initially. Certainly his actions in this book were more surprising and perplexing before than they seem now having read the other two books and gained more insight into Marc's character than we were given previously.

All in all I found this to be a rather endearing story that is full of emotion, which is somewhat ironic given that the future society most of these character are from does its best to eschew emotion. It does serve to help highlight how impossible it is for humans to behave in a completely unemotional manner, and the situation that Isabella finds herself in helps highlight how ill-advised it can potentially be to try. It is interesting to see how the characters in this book and in the others come to realize this for themselves and to see how they react to that realization. For each definitely chooses their own path and no two are quite the same.

To conclude I'll just repeat my recommendation for this series. It has been fascinating so far to see it evolve and I'm eager to see where exactly it goes from here. While you can certainly read this book on its own and understand the story well enough I would recommend reading the first two first, if only to better understand the world and some of the characters involved, particularly Marc. However you choose to approach it though, this one will definitely be time well spent to read it.

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