Book Review: We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett (ARC)

We Rule the Night

Author: Claire Eliza Bartlett

Publication Date: 02 Apr 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 400

Publisher: The NOVL/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Two girls use forbidden magic to fly and fight–for their country and for themselves–in this riveting debut that’s part Shadow and Bone, part Code Name Verity.

Seventeen-year-old Revna is a factory worker, manufacturing war machines for the Union of the North. When she’s caught using illegal magic, she fears being branded a traitor and imprisoned. Meanwhile, on the front lines, Linné defied her father, a Union general, and disguised herself as a boy to join the army. They’re both offered a reprieve from punishment if they use their magic in a special women’s military flight unit and undertake terrifying, deadly missions under cover of darkness. Revna and Linné can hardly stand to be in the same cockpit, but if they can’t fly together, and if they can’t find a way to fly well, the enemy’s superior firepower will destroy them–if they don’t destroy each other first.

We Rule the Night is a powerful story about sacrifice, complicated friendships, and survival despite impossible odds.

I read this book in an afternoon, and when I finished, I was so conflicted with how I felt about the book. I wasn’t sure if just liked it or loved it. This was one of those books that I needed to digest what I read before I could even give it a rating.

From start to finish, this story is chock full of non-stop action. The story opens with Revna and the other factory workers desperately trying to escape to the underground shelters as Tammin is under siege from enemy planes. The problem is that Revna is in a wheelchair, and she must make a further trek than her coworkers since her family’s status as second-class citizens forbids them from entering the closer bomb shelters (the reason why is addressed). As time is running out, Revna decides to call on The Weave, magic that has been banned by the union, in order to save her own life and find her family. Unfortunately for her, a run in with a Union officer mid Weave jump betrays her secret magic use. Revna assumes that she will be thrown in prison alongside her father and labeled as traitor, but she is given a different opportunity instead.

At this point, we switch gears and meet Linné who has been called in front of her superiors for impersonating a male in order to join the frontlines of war (Mulan anyone?). Linné comes from a well-known and respected military father who is under the impression that his daughter is doing well at her boarding school instead of fighting alongside her battalion on the frontlines. She is faced with the decision to either be sent back home to her father or to join a newly formed reigmen of women who will be trained to use The Weave to pilot war planes. Linné is one of the citizens who is adamantly against The Weave but signing up for this squad is the only way she will be able to fight for her country once again.

Once Revna and Linné meet the other girls of their regimen, which is led by the famous Tamara Zima, they quickly learn what the military men really think of their team and mission. The men believe that Tamara is only leading this team and mission because her lover is a high ranking official, which is consistently brought up. To be fair, even the girls believe it at first as well.

Immediately, Linné feels like she’s made a mistake and these girls are making mockery of what the military stands for. The girls want to alter their uniforms, wear their own fashionable shoes instead of the military grade boots issued to them, and refuse to be modest (Linné had to bind her breasts, shower when everyone was asleep, and hide her menstruation rags). This builds a HUGE rift between Linné and everyone else…especially Revna, who is the most gifted at controlling The Weave. This team had a long way to go if they were going to come together to help fight in the war, especially when all the men kept reminding them that they were not capable.  

I have to hand it to the author for creating a fantasy story, that aside from the actual magic, did not feel like fantasy. The blatant sexism that the girls face in this book pissed me off to absolutely no end. To make matters worse, Tamara has no sympathy on the girls because she herself is treated as an absolute joke by all of the commanding officers. The girls were purposefully given equipment that was expected to fail and never given the opportunity to succeed.

I loved watching the girls’ band together against all odds; especially the extremely slow burn friendship that built between Revna and Linné. These girls would do whatever it takes to win the war, and they refuse to leave their own behind.

I realized that I hadn’t even commented on much of the fantasy in the plot because I was so engrossed with the characters in this story. The magic is everything that I wanted in this remarkable debut. There are fire-breathing dragons that can decimate cities in seconds. The planes that the girls fly are comprised of living metal that adapts to the Weave user’s emotions. The fight scenes are incredibly descriptive and get your heart racing.

Thank you to The NOVL for an advanced copy of this book. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

Have you read We Rule the Night? Is it on your TBR?

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