It seems like I say this with every book I read, but my review for Black Dove, White Raven was a difficult one to write. I had a lot of trouble separating my love for Wein’s previous books and my feelings for this one, so I think I have talked a load of nonsense. Anyway, read on.
So, I liked this one. Black Dove, White Raven was okay. Just okay. In comparison to Code Name Verity, which I have placed on a throne made of dismembered aeroplanes, it wasn’t great. But when I took a step back and really thought about it, I actually quite liked it. But it wasn’t up to Wein’s usual standard, unfortunately.
The main thing I felt Black Dove, White Raven was missing was the bond of friendship. Code Name Verity really set the standard for amazing friendships and blurred lines, and Rose Under Fire had a wonderful bond between a couple of characters. Black Dove, White Raven, however, missed the mark entirely. Yes, it was more about family than the other two books, but I didn’t feel a connection between Teo and Em at all. Which was weird, because they were the titular characters and were apparently this awesome team. But I didn’t feel anything for them at all when they were together.
It must be said though that separately these two characters were great. Em’s point of view, especially with her fear of flying, was wonderful to read, and I loved being inside Teo’s head as he first discovered his homeland, and then later as the war broke out.
I adore historical fiction so the setting was my favourite thing about this book. While I think Wein excels more when it comes to characters than describing the setting, I love that Black Dove, White Raven was set at a time in history that is rarely talked about. The Italo-Ethiopian war had a huge impact on what happened with Hitler and WWII, and yet it is barely talked about because it didn’t happen in Europe or in the USA. I really love the fact that Elizabeth Wein decided to explore those couple of years and the war itself some more.
All that said, I found Black Dove, White Raven to be an incredibly slow read. Yes, I was in a reading slump for the most part, and that undoubtedly had an impact on how much I enjoyed the book, but it still didn’t grip me. Mostly because the bond between friends wasn’t there, and it was unable to carry the story. The first half of the book is pretty much a set-up, and then the final 80% seems very rushed.
Anyway, I did enjoy the book, but I thought it could have been improved upon. I really liked the characters as individuals but their relationship was missing that spark for me. I loved all of the historical parts (which is a weird thing to say since it’s an historical fiction novel, I know) because, hello, history buff here. I would recommend picking it up, even though it’s a terrible shame that it doesn’t live up to the awesome that is Code Name Verity, or even Rose Under Fire.