Title: Valentine Joe
Author: Rebecca Stevens
Published by: Chicken House
Publication date: 1st May 2014
Genres: Middle grade/War/History
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Buy the book (Waterstones) | Buy the book (The Book Depository)
Unfortunately, this is one of those three-star reviews, a.k.a one of those reviews which is difficult to write because you didn't love it but you didn't hate it either.
We'll start with what irked me a little.
Valentine Joe was on the brink of being slightly too young for me, which is no fault of the book of course, but the language was very simple and didn't go into much depth about the war. That really disappointed me because history is one of my favourite subjects and I've been interested in the war ever since I was really young. This is a MG book so it makes sense that the language would be simple, but it was almost bland. Not to mention the book was written in third person, which can work occasionally, but this time it just made me feel so detached from the characters. I didn't connect with them at all.
It was slow to start with, too, but soon enough I was joining Rose on her search for Joe, through trenches and barracks to vintage cafes and a mysterious hotel. I enjoyed it, but I had expected it to be phenomenal and...it just wasn't. It was okay. It's set in Ypres, a place I've wanted to visit since way before I discovered one of my relatives is buried there, as he was killed in WWI. And it was clear that the author had done a LOT of detailed research, right down to what a visitor might see from the window of the Eurostar as it pulls into the city.
If you're a fan of war stories then it's highly likely you'll enjoy this, but don't expect it to be completely mind blowing. In a word, Valentine Joe is bittersweet.