UNHINGE THE UNIVERSE
Give me one fixed point and a long enough lever, and I’ll unhinge the universe. — Archimedes
December 1944 – The Battle of the Bulge
SS Lieutenant Hagen Friedrichs is the sole survivor of a party sent to retrieve his brother—and the highly sensitive information he’s carrying—from behind enemy lines. But his daring rescue attempt fails, and Hagen becomes the prisoner.
Allied command has ordered Captain John Nicholls to extract critical intelligence from their new Nazi POW. His secrets could turn the tide of the war, but are they real? John is determined to find out . . . and to shatter the prisoner who killed his lover during the attack on their tiny base. The deeper he digs, though, the more he realizes that the soldier under the SS uniform is just like him: a scared, exhausted young man who’s lost loved ones and just wants to go home.
As captor and captive form an unexpected bond, the lines quickly blur between enemy, friend, and lover. And as horrifying rumors spread from the front lines and American soldiers turn their sights on the SS for vengeance, John may be Hagen’s only hope for survival.
Hmn.. Where do I start?
If I must compare, I find this book somewhere in between Special Forces and Skybound, both by Voinov, for lack of better references. (Because these two books are the only ones that jumped to my mind when I think about historical gay military fictions). Unfortunately, a mix of two mind-blowing books doesn’t always yield an even more mind-blowing result. Sadly, Unhinge the Universe lacks the beautiful prose and impact of the short Skybound and the bold slaps of SF.
So, where then, did it leave this book?
This book is safe, not exactly heart racing even with all the actions packed. Which somehow had a positive impact for me, as it allowed me to observe everything and not tempted to skim (
which I usually do a lot with actions). It is slow paced and I somehow still wished for more of the characters.
So yes, Unhinge the Universe is a very safe book. Compared, mind you, to those two books, SF and Skybound. It is safely beautiful, nothing mindblowing but still something special. It is safely heartbreaking, not your wrenching to the gut ache but something that tugs your heart gently nonetheless.
It is definitely not a simple book, just lacking the extra layers of depth that I had expected. It’s surprisingly very refreshing.
I’m glad it was different from Mr. Voinov’s usual work though, because I was expecting somewhat a change with this collaboration with L.A. Witt and me reading it for the first time. In fact, it delivered, satisfyingly. (Adding their collab books to TBR list as we speak here)
Although I still kind of wish they had brought the book to either one of the extremes.
But, did I love it? Would I buy and reread it? ABSOLUTELY. Because really, despite everything, Hagen is so endearing!
“Focus, Hagen. Focus.
On his mouth.
On his fingers on the side of my neck. In my hair.
Focus on . . . on . . . verdammt.”
The plot itself totally did not disappoint. A WWII piece from the eye of a Nazi, revenge killings that were kiiiind of justified, the clash of personal values and extreme usage of Rivals-to-Lovers theme. Right my alley ❤
And of course, there's the sex.
“Are you sure—” John pressed his back against Hagen’s chest. “Are you sure you’ve never done this?”
“I think I would have remembered, no?”
John groaned softly. “You wouldn’t have been forgotten, that much is for sure.”
And this totally confirms it. I have a thing towards historical military stories with guys secretly getting off together. And if they are enemies? Even better mmmhmm.