The Book of Impossibility: 'The Cruelty' Review

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


The Cruelty

Author: S Bergstrom
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Publisher: Feiwell and Friends
Page Number: 384

When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17 year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting.

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There was one glaring thing that made this book meh for me. And it was the basic idea of the story. Gwendolyn's actions were completely irresponsible, if not completely impossible. But I'll address that later. 
That fact aside, there were some really intriguing aspects of the book. 

I am someone who enjoys action scenes. The heart-pounding action combined with death-defying stunts makes my pulse race. And the book really satisfied my need for action scenes. Gwendolyn's training was action-y as well. It was exciting to see her put in those situations. The tension was there. The action scenes were spaced out and well placed. I truly did like them.

Yael was badass. Completely. I wouldn't want to be her protegee; her teaching methods were brutal. But she was cool. She fought. And fought. It was interesting seeing her react to life-or-death situations. 
Also, I picture her as Tanaka's sister from 'Haikyuu'. Looks wise. I dunno. That or some gorgeous Inej-from-'Six-of-Crows' look. FAN CASTING TIME.

Remember when I mentioned the basic concept was flawed? Well, we're returning to that. The entire book revolves around the idea that Gwendolyn would take action. For almost every other girl, they would wait for the cops to handle it. Or, at least, the girls I know. It seems impossible for her to take action. Especially since it put her life in danger. Many people, not just girls, would back out. It's too scary or too risky. But the Unsinkable Gwendolyn Bloom (Heh heh. 'Titanic' reference) said, "Poo poo," and carried on. Possible? Maybe... Likely? Probably not. 
Throughout this book, I had to suspend my disbelief. Because, no, just no.

Gwendolyn started out as an introverted girl who disagreed but didn't fight back. In the end, she was a badass, fighting heroine. The problem is that this wouldn't happen in real life. Her change was so fast. It takes time for people to hone these skills. She latched onto them like a baby calf latches onto her mother's teat. Aka...too fast. (I think my metaphor is failing me. Sorry.) Unless there is a month or two or three missing. Which could explain things, but the story isn't told that way. So we're going to assume that Gwendolyn Bloom somehow mastered Krav Maga in a few weeks, or even a month or so. 
Aka...impossible. 
Sorry, but even 24/7 training won't advance you that fast.

This book was truly an interesting spectacle. The basic idea was impossible, but some of the characters and the scenes were well-done. I'm torn, really. The action scenes were quite amazing. But...who knows? Maybe you'll like it more than I did.


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