Book Review: Salt to the Sea

25614492Author: Ruta Sepetys

Publisher: Philomel Books

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 393

Rating: ⭐⭐


World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people—adults and children alike—aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.


A world war two, historical fiction, told from the unlikely perspectives of several teenagers on their journey of attempting to seek refuge aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff. This is a book i thought i was going to fall into hard, learn some history and get attached to the characters. However, i didn’t really get that with this at all, and although i feel like I’ve learned a little, that’s all i have really taken away from this story.

The writing style is fine, we switch through 4 main perspectives after each chapter, which can be a little jarring at first, when we barely spend anytime at all with one before we move onto another. However, after a time you do get used to it and the story begins to come together.

The characters really didn’t do anything for me. They weren’t fleshed out very well and in the end were honestly quite generic, save for the one German who was a total sociopath, for some reason. I just didn’t enjoy their perspectives at all, and the little time we spend with them in each chapter doesn’t help with forming some sort of a connection with any one of them. The fact that they were all rather generic, also made the POV blend together, and it was hard to discern who we were actually following at times.

The overall story was more of a “journey type” where mostly nothing happens for the majority of the book. I really wish more time was actually spent on the boat, and the sinking; it would have made it more interesting, and really that’s what we were all here for. Instead, only the last 1/4 of the book is about the boat, and it all happened so fast that there was hardly any emotional pull at all.

Such a disappointment. This book, unfortunately, has put me off of reading WWII historical fictions for awhile. It was mediocre at best, and not at all what i was expecting. Her intentions were good, but the execution failed miserably.

Rating Breakdown

Plot (just the story on its own): 2

Characters (well fleshed out, and development): 2

World building (future setting, and politics): 2

Writing style (format, and transitioning): 1

Pacing (no slagging, and kept the same momentum): 2

Enjoyment (my overarching feelings/likeability): 2

Overall: (2+2+2+1+2+1/6) = 1.8


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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Salt to the Sea

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