Saturday, July 08, 2017

Teen/YA Review: Projekt 1065

I have often said here recently that I have overdosed on World War II novels, and I do seem to have read a LOT of them. I ignored my misgivings, though, and jumped into the audio book of Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz, mainly because I found Gratz’s YA novel Code of Honor so compelling when I listened to it last year. I’m glad I gave Projekt 1065 a chance because it was also engrossing, suspenseful, and very emotionally powerful.

This is a different kind of WWII story, told from the perspective of a young teen boy. Michael O’Shaunessey lives in Nazi Germany, but he is not German (as you can probably tell from his name!). His father is the Irish ambassador in Germany, and he and his family have been allowed to stay since Ireland has remained neutral during the war (something I didn’t know). However, while his parents are busy hosting dinner parties for high-ranking Nazi officials, behind the scenes they are actually acting as Allied spies. Michael himself has had some minor involvement with their spy work, when necessary.

At school, though, Michael must act like a good Nazi, and that means being a member of the Hitler Youth, as all boys his age are required to do. He hates their violent “games,” book burnings, and cruel taunting of anyone different. He befriends a boy who is often teased and enjoys going to his house after school, but when he discovers that his friend’s father is working on Projekt 1065, a top-secret Nazi project to develop the first jet airplane, he may need to use his new friendship to gather information that could change the outcome of the war.

When an Allied pilot is shot down near Michael’s school, his Hitler Youth group is put to work searching for him. This development, plus the Projekt 1065 plans, becomes an Allied emergency when additional secrets come to light, and Michael is the only one who can help. He realizes he must become an even more ardent supporter of the Nazis in order to get into the inner circle of the Hitler Youth.

This story is absolutely spellbinding right from the start. Gratz takes the reader into the world of ordinary children living in Germany during WWII, the Nazi-influenced schools, and the inner workings of the Hitler Youth. The audio was excellent, with a range of accents provided by talented narrator Dan Bittner, who also read Gratz’s Code of Honor.

Tension builds to an almost unbearable level as Michael is pulled into the center of the action and plays a role in the outcome of the war. If you think that the involvement of children and young teens in the war to that extent is unrealistic, Gratz explains in an author’s note that the Nazis sent boys as young as 16 to the front lines, had a tank division made up entirely of Hitler Youth, with kids between age 12 and 16, and had preteen girls and boys manning anti-aircraft guns, as happens in the novel (and Projekt 1065 was real, too). It’s horrifying and hard to believe today, but it really happened. Gratz brings that history alive here, in a compelling, suspenseful, and action-packed story that will keep readers riveted.

320 pages, Scholastic

NOTE: Although Scholastic lists this novel for middle-grade readers, I recommend it for older kids, teens and young adults. There is a great deal of realistic violence and tense action.

 Listen to an audio sample:

Purchase from Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT:

Or purchase Projekt 1065 from Book Depository.


  1. This sounds so good! I also feel like I read a ton of WWII books, but I am going to get a copy of this one. I also haven't read Code of Honor so I may have to get both

    1. I think you will like both, Helen. Code of Honor deals with modern-day terrorism and Muslim-American prejudice - very good.

  2. Sounds REALLY good and an angle I've not read about in WWII literature. Thanks for this great review.

    1. Yes, a very new angle - and totally new info for me, about the role kids played in the Nazi's plans - really creepy.