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  • 2 person found this review helpful

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    Not what I expected it was better

    I’m not sure what I expected from this book actually. I was looking for something different and the idea of an alternate 1930s appealed to me as I like that period anyway. I didn’t know much about eugenics, seen it mentioned in documentaries about the Third Reich and World War 2 but didn’t realise it began in Britain. It seems a very dark subject but kind of understand now that it didn’t start that way. Like many things it was meant to improve peoples lives but it didn’t turn out that way. This book examines what it might have been like if eugenics had become a part of British government in the 1930s. I have to say that it is not a dry book about a dark subject. Eugenics is discussed at an international conference on board an airship travelling from Britain to America to Germany and back to Britain again. I found this helped me understand the subject as it's explained in good detail through a series of talks. I was surprised by the number of famous people who supported eugenics. I could see how it moved from being a good intention to becoming the nightmare that the Nazis turned it into. The other part of the book follows a group of young people who all have disabilities and are taken to a camp run by the Ministry of Social Biology. This was pretty bleak but the story picks up and turns into a real adventure that moves as fast as the cars, trains and planes used by the characters to escape the ministry men. I didn’t think that I would take to the disabled kids but I did, especially Grace and Tom. This was down to the authors style of writing that got me into the book. It all felt very genuine with some good use of slang from the times, although I found the Yorkshire slang a bit hard at times (the camp is in Yorkshire so I think that is what it's meant to be). It’s a long book at over 500 pages but I didn’t notice that when I was reading it. You really get into the story and the way the two parts come together at the end, the people on the airship and the kids, was very clever. Although the subject is dark there was some good comic bits as well, a bit of science fiction maybe, and the dialogue was like something from an old Hollywood movie of the time, very clever in parts. Reading this book made me change how I look at disabled people. The characters were very good, very strong and believable. Thinking about it now I think this book is one of the cleverest books that I have read in a long time. It combines some difficult subjects and turns them into a gripping adventure that leaves you wanting more.

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