Monday, 20 July 2015

SKYBOUND by Aleksandr Voinov

SKYBOUND by Aleksandr Voinov
Pages: 30
Date: July 19, 2015

The blurb:

“Germany, 1945. The Third Reich is on its knees as Allied forces bomb Berlin to break the last resistance. Yet on an airfield near Berlin, the battle is far from over for a young mechanic, Felix, who’s attached to a squadron of fighter pilots. He’s especially attached to fighter ace Baldur Vogt, a man he admires and secretly loves. But there’s no room for love at the end of the world, never mind in Nazi Germany.

When Baldur narrowly cheats death, Felix pulls him from his plane, and the pilot makes his riskiest move yet. He takes a few days’ leave to recover, and he takes Felix with him. Away from the pressures of the airfield, their bond deepens, and Baldur shows Felix the kind of brotherhood he’d only ever dreamed of before.

But there’s no escaping the war, and when they return, Baldur joins the fray again in the skies over Berlin. As the Allies close in on the airfield where Felix waits for his lover, Baldur must face the truth that he is no longer the only one in mortal danger.”

My thoughts:

“I used to count the absences when they landed.”

Sometimes I have to ask what on earth is wrong with me. I’ve owned my (signed) copy of Skybound for almost a year and only now decided to read it. Part of it stems from my tendency to save books I expect to love just in case I need them to pull my out of a reading slump. My reluctance to read about WW II certainly played its role. And the fact that Skybound doesn’t live on my Kindle but resides in pride of place on my bookshelf is another reason. None of them are good enough as excuses go though.

Dare I say it? Should I put down in writing that these may well have been the most touching, memorable and mesmerizing thirty pages I have ever read? There, I’ve said it. I have absolutely no idea how it is possible to say so much using so few words. The developing relationship between Baldur and Felix, life on an airfield in the later days of WW II, the madness of war versus the reluctance to give up on what is clearly a lost cause, and the facility to find hope even in the midst of devastation. Aleksandr Voinov told us more about war, fighting, pilots, fear and love in thirty pages than others have done in books ten times longer. I think it’s fair to say that every single word in this book was significant, just as I have no doubt that not only will Skybound stay on my mind for a very long time, it is also one of the few books I know I will re-read...again and again.

The very first thing that touched me in this book was the quote I started this review with. The second thing to make me sit up and break out in a huge grin was the reference to a Karl May book. I read those Old Shatterhand books when I was in my early teens and I still remember them with enormous fondness. How nice to have those memories re-awoken while reading another book.

Years ago I made up my mind to never read a book about WW II again. I’ve broken that promise to myself only a few times and Aleksandr Voinov is the only author who’s made me do it twice. The first time, when I read Unhinge the Universe, I was glad I’d overcome my reluctance. This time what I feel is gratitude that I didn’t allow my self-imposed moratorium to deprive me of Skybound, because it is the most wonderful of books and has now found its rightful place on my ‘extra special’ list.

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