4 out of 5 stars.
I received an ARC of this work.
I liked this instalment quite a bit more than the first one. In this second book, all three girls are in the thick of the war. Frangie is serving as a medic on the front lines, Rainy is working with intelligence to cut a deal with the mafia and Rio is kicking butt all over Europe and North Africa. We start really seeing the full impact of war, both physically and emotionally, on the girls and their comrades, and their characters really start to change and grow.
One of the interesting things about the writing style in these pieces is that there is a narrator who is assumed to be one of the characters, but we still do not know which of the girls it is. She speaks about everyone in the third person and still refuses to give her identity. Grant has made her vague enough that she could be anyone. Neat way to do a somewhat impartial narrator.
The best part of this read was watching the girls really start to realize the full cost of the war. The first book had a lot of training in it, and a lot of the character’s anxieties were around acceptance. Now they are all a lot more worried about straight up survival. Frangie is having to patch up worse wounds than she has ever encountered and still faces a lot of racism. Rainy is dealing with a less than competent supervisor who is sending her on a dangerous mission without a proper escape plan. Rio is starting to drift farther and farther away from her childhood friend, and wondering what her soldiering skills mean for herself and her femininity. All three of them are having to deal with death and the dying every day and it is starting to break them in different ways.
Despite proving competent, all of them are still having to deal with some sexism and racism, which I think holds true for the experiences of women in armies now, and minorities, even back then. Despite saving lives and distinguishing themselves, their fellow soldiers are still not willing to admit that the girls are proper soldiers, and all of them have their own ways of dealing with that, Rio by fighting harder, Rainy uses her smart mouth and Frangie with forgiveness (and Jenou with straight up sexiness). I like that all the girls seem to have different defence mechanisms and it is interesting to watch them in action.
This book really grew the characters and rounded them out as people. It was fast paced action combined with character growth and some interesting WWII history. Recommended for people who like history but want something a bit different.