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A Reader of Fictions: Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #14: Tatiana and Alexander

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #14: Tatiana and Alexander

Tatiana and Alexander
Tatiana and Alexander, Book 2

Author: Paullina Simons
Pages: 576
Publisher: Avon
Read: May 17-20, 2013 
Source: Gifted
Recommended by: Lisa V.

Description from Goodreads:
The epic saga of love and war continues--the heart-stopping sequel to Paullina Simons's beloved international bestseller The Bronze Horseman.

Tatiana is eighteen years old, pregnant, and widowed when she escapes war-torn Leningrad to find a new life in America. But the ghosts of her past do not rest easily. She becomes consumed by the belief that her husband, Red Army officer Alexander Belov, is still alive and needs her desperately.

Meanwhile, oceans and continents away in the Soviet Union, Alexander barely escapes execution, and is forced to lead a battalion of soldiers considered expendable by the Soviet high command. Yet Alexander is determined to take his men through the ruins of Europe in one last desperate bid to escape Stalin's death machine and somehow find his way to Tatiana once again.

Previous Book in Series:
1: The Bronze Horseman

First Sentence: "Alexander Barrington stood in front of the mirror and adjusted his red Cub Scout tie."

Tatiana and Alexander did actually turn out to be a much stronger read for me than its predecessor, The Bronze Horseman. Rarely does a sequel improve upon the first book, so yay for that. While I slogged through book one, this one I read over the course of just a couple of days. Simons' trilogy takes a turn for the historical, rather than the romantic, which is just what I was wanting from this series from the start.

Of course, the reason I like this one so much better than The Bronze Horseman is that Tatiana and Alexander are kept apart for the bulk of it. Only in the last 100 pages are they together again, aside from some brief flashbacks that catch the reader up on the events of the first book (and, no, it's not in the least frustrating that an 800 page book can be summed up in a few quick flashbacks). My issues with Tatiana and Alexander's relationship were and are threefold: the idiotic love triangle (which is a non-issue now, but still taints my opinion of the two), the age difference (which isn't really all that large, but Tatiana was not mature for her age), and the way Alexander bosses Tatiana around. I'm sure his bossiness is typically Russian, and it's also what he witnessed from his parents, but I still think he's a dick, even if society taught him to behave that way.

However, as I said, they're hardly together in this one and that's a blessing, unless what you loved about book one was the romance, not the part about the siege; in that case, better luck with book three. Simons totally goes for a dramatic irony thing, with the reader knowing that he's alive and Tatiana believing Alexander died. Will she move on? Will she commit suicide out of despair, leaving her son an orphan? Sadly, the latter was much closer to transpiring. Yeah, I knew her husband was alive and that they would be reunited, but I kept hoping she would move on anyway, what with not shipping them in the slightest.

Aside from them, though, I pretty much loved everything else. Simons writes well, aside from her tendency to get all gooshy with the romance stuff. Where the story in The Bronze Horseman was entirely linear, Tatiana and Alexander jumps through time, from Tatiana to Alexander. We learn more about Alexander's childhood and follow him from his faked death until their reunion. Since the lovers are parted, the focus is on historical events, not melodrama.

Warning: This paragraph has spoilers:
With Alexander, Simons is able to cover torture sessions and the way the Soviets try to garner confessions, in which every option is a trap. From there, Alexander moves to a penal brigade, and the reader gets to witness just how poorly managed the Soviet forces were, sending men out to die senselessly. Later, Alexander fights along the front line with Germany, poorly armed and with the NKGB waiting behind to shoot him and his men should they retreat. Forced to surrender or die, his men are then sent to a concentration camp (Sachsenhausen) for having dared to let the enemy win. All of these things are true to the Soviet experience in WWII, and Simons does a good job depicting the bleakness.

With only one book left in this saga, I'm hoping for more historical fiction, but suspect that The Summer Garden will be romance, romance, romance. At any rate, with this one, I'm glad I've read the series, and tentatively excited to continue.

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote:
"'Does Hitler value your life?' asked Tatiana.
     'More than Stalin would. Hitler tries to heal us so he can send us back to the front, but Stalin doesn't even bother. He lets his men die and then sends fourteen-year-olds to the front. And then they die.'"

Up Next:
The next Sadie Hawkins Sunday book will be Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma! I've been curious to try Suma's books for ages, so thank you to Jenni of Alluring Reads for suggesting it. I can only hope I love it as much as Jenni did!

Want to tell me what to read? Fill out the following form with a suggestion! For more details, check this post.

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Blogger kimbacaffeinate said...

Great review, I do love books set in Russia, and WWII. Not sure this one is for me, but delighted you enjoyed this more than book one!

May 27, 2013 at 12:41 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I'm glad that you liked this one. Hopefully the series continues to be good and the romance in the third book doesn't totally take over.

May 27, 2013 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Jenni @ Alluring Reads said...

Great that this one improved upon the first book, as you said, that doesn't happen often so yay! Is this the one where you had the update about getting on with it and not leaving the kid an orphan? haha that one had me laughing so hard. It's long hey? Holy crow, well happy that you fared better with this one chickie!

May 27, 2013 at 9:44 AM  

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