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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
The Hell Run is a fictional take on Operation Open Door, a rescue operation of Norwegian civilians to England by the combined British Navy, American merchant convoys, and Russian forces during World War II. Author Anthony Palmiotti spins a moving tale of grit and courage in the face of certain death told through the crew of the American merchant ship, the SS John Ireland, officers of the British Navy, and members of the Norwegian resistance. Upon receiving information about the upcoming extermination of the population of Soroya, Major Malloy of the British Navy devises a daring plan, much of which centers around Captain Santori and his ship, and the Norwegian resistance. Already exhausted and lacking in supplies, Santori must now motivate a crew low on morale into braving enemy territory, aerial bombardment, and unpredictable northern seas.
The Hell Run is genuinely one of the best books I've read this year. Anthony Palmiotti's war epic is gut-wrenching, harrowing, heartwarming, and poignant in equal measures. The characters are realistic, and you're constantly on the edge rooting for them not to get hurt, especially considering Palmiotti doesn't shy away from showing the brutal realities of war. The plot moves at a brisk pace, and the battle scenes are written in vivid detail as they get etched on your mind. Palmiotti's use of switching POVs makes the narrative all the more cinematic. Some moments will break your heart, but there are also times in which you can't help but pump your fists in jubilation. I found the ending to be particularly cathartic. If there's a true successor to the movie Saving Private Ryan, then this is it. Highly recommended.