Review by Kira Toal, 17
Lovely War By Julie Berry
“Lovely War” by Julie Berry is a historical fiction romance novel set at the height of World War I and (here’s the interesting part:) narrated by Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. It features two main couples: Hazel and James, a talented young pianist and a newly recruited soldier; and Colette and Aubrey, a Belgian refugee and musician-turned-infantryman in the U.S. Army.
Personally, I never felt too invested in the novel’s human characters, but I absolutely loved the Greek gods. They all were written with such acerbic wit and each god had a unique and animated personality that felt authentic to their portrayals in actual Greek mythology.
Speaking more broadly about the insertion of the gods into the narrative, because I do feel that it was the most unique and well-done characteristic of the novel, I think Julie Berry did a good job of balancing the WWI storyline with the Greek mythology storyline. The gods never felt invasive to the main storyline, which was my first concern when I read the book’s synopsis. I particularly enjoyed the contrast between Aphrodite’s and Ares’ perspectives on the nature of life, love, and war.
I really appreciated how much care Julie Berry put into “Lovely War”. Her meticulous research is evident in all of the little details she incorporated both into scenes about World War I and scenes about the Greek gods.
One criticism I have of the novel is that the pacing occasionally felt off — it felt like scenes were being dragged out in some places and raced through in others. I also wasn’t a fan of how the chapters were incredibly short, often less than 5 pages, and new chapters would often mark a change in time or a change in perspective from one character to another. It gave the story a weird, almost fractured feeling at times.
I rarely enjoy reading YA romance novels, but Lovely War is not your average romance. Julie Berry has crafted a unique narrative about love and war, history and mythology, and loyalty and betrayal, and I am excited to explore more of her work. 4/5 stars.
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Catalog Number: YA FIC BERRY,J