23/04/2010

Escape From Colditz by Deborah Chancellor - Barrington Stoke Book 13

Escape From Colditz is the third book in a row that I have looked at on this blog that has elements of non-fiction. Looking at the author, Deborah Chancellor's other books, it is clear non-fiction is her speciality (I particularly like the look of I Wonder Why Lemons Taste Sour).

Escape From Colditz is the true story of the escape of two dutch prisoners from the notorious World War II prison. It is written as a story, but a few things give it away:
  • This version is obviously not autobiographical, and has been heavily adapted from the original, not least it has been translated into English
  • It is written in the present tense, which feels a little odd for a historical story
  • The sentences and paragraphs are perhaps a little longer than in other similar adventure books
  • The characters are not really given distinct personalities, (after their escape, the two heroes actually fall-out and separate on their way to the Swiss border, a clear personality-clash that I would loved to have heard more about, but is not really explored)
As a result of these points, the book feels a little clunky. It is still tense however, and a gripping story including:
  • Dummy prisoners
  • A fake padlock
  • Barbed wire and 4 metre high walls
  • German guards
  • A complicated journey to the border
  • Fake papers
  • Search lights
  • A moonlight border crossing
As with all the Barrington Stoke books it is beautifully presented, I love the cast list and map at the start and the illustrations have a super graphic-novel feel. In fact, I wonder if the story would have been better told as a manga-style graphic-novel?

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