Review: The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond

Title: The Only Thing to Fear
Author: Caroline Tung Richmond
Publication: September 30, 2014 by Scholastic Press 
Source: Publisher / Pinoy Book Tours
Date Read: December 14, 2014 to January 12, 2015
Rating: ★★★☆☆
In a stunning reimagining of history, debut author Caroline Tung Richmond weaves an incredible story of secrets and honor in a world where Hitler won World War II.
It's been nearly 80 years since the Allies lost WWII in a crushing defeat against Hitler's genetically engineered super soldiers. America has been carved up by the victors, and 16-year-old Zara lives a life of oppression in the Eastern America Territories. Under the iron rule of the Nazis, the government strives to maintain a master race, controlling everything from jobs to genetics. Despite her mixed heritage and hopeless social standing, Zara dreams of the free America she's only read about in banned books. A revolution is growing, and a rogue rebel group is plotting a deadly coup. Zara might hold the key to taking down the Führer for good, but it also might be the very thing that destroys her. Because what she has to offer the rebels is something she's spent her entire life hiding, under threat of immediate execution by the Nazis.

In this action-packed, heart-stopping novel of a terrifying reality that could have been, Zara must decide just how far she'll go for freedom.



I was 15 when I first learned about Nazism extensively. We were studying World History and it was then when I first met Winston Churchill and started idolizing him (Leader. Historian. Nobel Prize in Literature winner. - but that's another story, alright.). History fascinates me. If not for our History teacher being so grumpy and our class scheduled so early, I know, I could have aced that class. Truth be told, our class failed World History miserably (another story to be told in full next time) and I was from then on branded as the girl who fights the History teacher, the girl who reads history books just to get on her History teacher's nerves, and the girl who will never graduate along with the Honors class. This, however, is not an entry about my History teacher, but just a prelude on why my high school friends always associate me with two things: Superman and Nazi (forget Superman and just focus on the latter). My BFF even gave me a swastika bag (I decided against posting the photo here to spare you guys of my puke-worthy teenage selfie) because I really am engrossed with Nazism ever since I laid eyes on that Nazi coffee table book we have at home, I totally despise Hitler and everything he did, but there's something in that symbol that captured me. I am very weird like that. I later on learned that swastika came from the Sanskrit word svastika which meant 'good fortune' - and that made me feel a little better about myself. Hahahaha. ^__^

And so when I found out that a new Young Adult book about Hitler came out, I became particularly interested especially when I learned about its premise that is so much different from The Diary of a Young Girl and The Book Thief.

The premise is simple yet very though-provoking: 'What if Hitler won World War II?'

I really never thought of that before. Where will we be now and what will the world look like if we were dominated by the Aryan race? What will happen especially to us who do not share the same height and hair and skin color? I started asking myself if I'd ever be accustomed to shouting, 'Hail Hitler' (or maybe, just maybe, I can flee whilst singing away like the Von Trapp family. Teehee. I know, bad joke.).

That is the world our protagonist Zara is in. The world where everyone is obliged to adore the Hitlers, the world where the Germans are the master race and a half Japanese like her is treated like rug, well, everybody is treated as rug as long as you aren't German and not serving in the government.

The world Richmond built in this book is not what I actually realized it to be but it worked just as well, it only had a tinge of Dystopian-like air to it, so I find it just hard not to compare Zara to Katniss. Let it be known that I will always compare every Dystopian book to The Hunger Games. Zara, like Katniss is headstrong and persevere. Zara wants change and her heart is full of anger and her mind is full of plans of revenge - I particularly didn't like that about her (because... positivity! Have courage and be kind, remember?) but it only made her more real, more human, more like someone living in such dire situation.

Liking this book really came too easy for me. It has all the right ingredients for a great book. The conflict, the heartaches, kilig scenes care of Bastian. I also like that even though Zara can really be stubborn, she can also be so vulnerable when it comes to people she care about. I'd also like to point out that it made me so happy that the author cut off the budding love triangle right away because I am not ready to rant. I am Team Bastian all the way. Hahaha.

Zara sank into her chair, stung. Here was her chance to finally join the Alliance, but even Garrison had shot her down. She didn’t know what else she needed to do to become a part of the resistance — kill the Führer with her bare hands?

Seriously now, what I hate about this book is its stand on morality - particularly, murder. The statement above is just one proof that this book promotes murder as long as you will be killing the bad guy. I know, I know, you really kill the bad guy in some of the books but, the point I want to hammer home is, you don't justify it, especially that your readers are teens and your lead characters are of their age as well, or really, this is just about morals and good customs. Murder is a crime against humanity and by being a murderer, what makes you different from the bad guy? I know, you guys will throw THG on me, and I dare say that Katniss killing President Coin is the lowest part of Mockingjay for me. I really can't stand murder. I could have given this full five stars, if not for my morality issue. I mean, the Anomaly and Dual Anomaly concept is great, I definitely like how the story was weaved, as I've said above, it was heart-tugging, all the more thought-provoking but why does it have to be about killing? And why does the killing need to be unacceptable? Why??? Why does it affect me like this? Whyyyyy?

What I don’t understand is why we have to kill Dieter. He’ll be dead in months,” Uncle Red asked, not touching his food. “What’s the point of killing him now?”

See? Even Uncle Red could not understand.

Alene grunted while she reached into her pocket and pulled out a small handheld camcorder. “You need to tape the assassination. Otherwise this whole thing is for nothing.”

Yes, and proclaim to the world that you are a murderer, alright.

“Why?” he said, taken aback. “We have to, for the Alliance broadcast.” If it were up to her, they would kill the Führer and leave right afterward, but the Alliance needed this footage for the mission to succeed.

Someone, someone tell me why they have to broadcast the killing? My IQ suddenly dropped and I cannot comprehend.

“We’ve suffered under the Führer’s oppressive rule for decades, but tonight we claim our freedom.” Zara didn’t know where these words were coming from, but she didn’t question them.

You know what I remember? Yes, Katniss's propos.

Not for Zara, killer of the Führer, the Mischling — the kami — who had slain the most powerful man in the world.

Not typing anything because I don't want to rant. No. No. No.

Zara had gone to bed as just another Kleinbauer and had arisen as the face of the Alliance.
The Mockingjay. Ahuh. Ahuh.

It took me a long while before writing this piece but I still can relieve all the feelings I had the day I closed the review copy handed to me. I even came to a point wherein I asked myself if I am just singling out Zara since I haven't felt this much about other lead characters, not even Katniss. Or maybe, it's because I've expected so much from Zara, and I've expected her to do the right thing, the right thing for me, that is.

This is the part where I write my recommendation:

You have to read this book and tell me it's okay that Zara murdered the Führer.


  1. This is such a great review! I am not a fan of such kind of book but this is YA? Oh God. I need this on my shelf! Anyway, sad that you did not enjoy the book much. You spoiled me but I do agree on you that it's much like Mockingjay bc of the 'taping for you is the of assasination' part. Just cliché.

  2. Biena (The Library Mistress)April 28, 2015 at 1:09 AM

    Hi Yani! Thanks for dropping by! I am so sorry for spoiling you! I should've written a warning! I can say that this book is really good sans the morality issue I have with the resolution in the end.


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