So Henderson's Boys: The Escape has three main characters: Marc, Paul and Rosie. Marc lives in an orphanage farm that just may be your worst nightmare; cow manure, bullies, past-century punishments and cow manure. He always contemplated about running away, but this is World War II and he's French and young. Meanwhile, Paul and Rosie, brother and sister, no connection to Marc, and their father are trying to evade the Gestapo and head to Poland while being pursued by the Nazis. Apparently their father has these very important files to deliver to Charles Henderson. Get contacts to this agency apparently fighting back against Hitler.
Now, at first I hated the book, the stink jokes being completely predicted the second I learned Marc got the worst job, the torture scenes torturous to us as well, and I thought to myself, "Does Robert think all children are evil brats?" It's like he's trying to teach children that losing their temper will only hurt themselves, but he can't get the message through because the temper is never actually the character's faults. So after the first torture scene, even though Marc tried to prevent it with chivalry, I begun the endurance test I thought would keep going for the whole book. Paul and Rosie's relationship wasn't too fresh either and that didn't go on for too long either. Midway through, I decided I liked the two stories being shared equally. This book actually has footnotes and is actually a good tool to teach kids history terms about the Nazis.
Something I had a mixed feeling about was the poverty in the book. It's true, Robert probably wanted to show a realistic and unglamorously honest view of the wreckage of France, which may justify the torture at the beginning for some readers, not including me, and there is certainly some creepy and a little sad storytelling and descriptions, but I can't help but bring out this one scene with Marc where I had low expectations after Robert's previous work and it turned out exactly how I wanted it to. In Paul and Rosie's adventure, there's this moment where Rosie is as bratty as one of the kids from No Escape, which bothered me, but it didn't last and at least it doesn't lead the book into failure. There, Robert barely avoided a book slamming from me. Surprisingly, Paul and Rosie's relationship ends up not as trashy as it could have been and I found it surprising how Marc was briefly thinking of ending up a Nazi himself, given that France never did anything for him. I wasn't expecting that either. Then there's another part of Marc's story that was absolutely incredible and had me turning the pages like crazy. Things were looking up. If only in the other story, there wasn't this fart joke that I felt was completely out of place and crude, and sort of an odd choice for an epilogue, I kind of wish it would've just ended where it was and saved the surprise for the next instalment, Eagle Day, one which I intend to read.
So this book was on the brink of failure but Robert Muchamore has finally written a book that understands it's antagonists, and the ridiculously zippy third act concludes the book satisfying enough. I'll read the next book but I don't think I'll read this book again.