Review: I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Penguin
Released: February 1, 2022
Received: Own (BOTM)
Warnings: Torture, hunger, control, betrayal, gore

4 kitties

I’ll confess: I put off reading I Must Betray You for a couple of months. Why? Ruta Sepetys’ last novel absolutely wrecked me, so I had to prepare myself for this latest novel emotionally. We all know the writing will be spectacular and thus hit us right in the feels as always.

The year is 1989 in Romania. Christian Florescu is a seventeen-year-old kid who should be spending his time worried about normal teenage stuff. Instead, he’s worried for his family, friends, country, and future.

This worry compounds when Christian finds himself on the raw end of blackmail. Now, he must become an informer, which requires him to betray everyone and everything he loves. Or he can lay down his life—neither sound appealing.

“This never knowing, it weakens us,” Bunu would say. “It’s a form of control. They know exactly what they’re doing.”

Wow. I don’t know how Ruta Sepetys does it, but her work is always so beautifully (and painfully) emotional and human. It is impossible to do anything other than feel for the characters in her story, as it feels like we’re transported in time, only allowed to watch the story as it unfolds.

I Must Betray You very much lives up to the high expectations readers like to have. It is brilliant, tense, and incredibly emotional. Likewise, it doesn’t shy away from the graphic nature of the events that occurred in 1989. Readers might want to consider themselves warned on that count.

The chapters were surprisingly short, yet that actually made the larger story more approachable. It was easier to take it in through these little bursts, giving our hearts a chance to recover before moving on to the next event.

Christian’s character is a solid foundation on which this story was built. I sincerely just wanted to reach out and hug the kid as he struggled his way through so many things. It’s hard to put into words how this story made me feel. At least I know I’m not alone in those feelings.

I think I Must Betray You may be my favorite Ruta Sepetys book (to date – give it time, and I’m sure I’ll fall in love with the next release. I always do), which is saying something. So please, go ahead and read I Must Betray You; you won’t regret it.

About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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