This may sound like sacrilege to the diehard Attack on Titan fan, but I’ve only seen the first season of the anime. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the series; in fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But for whatever reasons they might be, I haven’t been able to catch up; nor have I read the manga that the anime is based on, or read any of the other adaptations. Yet, when I read the description for Garrison Girl by Rachel Aaron, there was something that intrigued me. Perhaps it was due to the fact that it is a standalone story with a new set of characters, allowing for a seamless transition to a different medium without having had to catch up on all of the other forms of Attack on Titan media; or maybe it was the concept of a girl of nobility, laying aside her pre-planned “responsibilities” to try to make a difference in a world gone mad. Either way, I’m glad I had the opportunity to read Aaron’s novel – my first from the author – because it is awesome!
Rosalie Dumarque is the daughter of a general; she’s the cousin of the king; and she’s also set to be married into a very important family. But Rosalie has trained in the art of combat and war against the titans, and she’s dreamed of putting her skills to the test with the hopes of stopping the titans once and for all. When Rosalie finally gets her chance to join the Garrison at Wall Rose – a faction of the military tasked with defending the wall and the citizens behind it – she unknowingly steps into a world she could never have imagined: one of terror, hardship, love, friendship, and sacrifice.
Attack on Titan is brutal. It’s a grim and gruesome world in which legendary titans – giant, grotesque cannibalistic humanoid creatures – have suddenly returned and penetrated the walled cities of humanity, devouring their prey (humans), and leaving a path of death and destruction in their wake. It sounds horrifying, right? Well, it is. But I’m a sucker for dark stories in which the protagonists, though oftentimes thrown into the depths of despair, still manage to hold onto to glimmers of hope, fighting for what’s right; fighting not just to survive, but to live. Garrison Girl is one such novel. While it takes place in the same terrifying world, the setting of Wall Rose makes the scope feel much smaller, and much less dire. This is a character-driven story of relationships and self-discovery, and it’s all the better for it.
Aaron has done a superb job at crafting a story with new characters, set in a pre-existing world, that feels both fresh and familiar. Rosalie is a brave, intelligent female protagonist who certainly has her imperfections despite being of a noble bloodline, but is always willing to learn and put others first. Her supporting characters are just as fully realized, making Garrison Girl an engaging, thrilling, and deeply personal story.
After reading Garrison Girl, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions: First, if you are a fan of either Attack on Titan or Rachel Aaron (or both), you need to read this book; secondly, I will absolutely be reading more of Aaron’s works in the near future; and finally, I think it is time for me to revisit the world of Attack on Titan.
When the last vestige of the human race is threatened by unstoppable carnivorous giants, a brave young woman decides to defy her wealthy family and join the military garrison to battle humanity’s enemies. But Rosalie Dumarque soon finds that her dream of escaping the protection of Wall Rose not only leads to bloody sword fights with monsters, but exposes her to other dangers. Can she earn the trust of her fellow soldiers, stand up to a corrupt authority, navigate a forbidden romance…and cut her way out of a titan’s throat?