Author: Ryan Graudin
Source/Format: The Novl Newsletter (publisher), ARC
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy, Alternative History
Publisher/Publication Date: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, October 22, 2015
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Synopsis from Goodreads...
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball. Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?
Alright, Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin was absolutely fantastic, and one of the best books I’ve read this year. Period. End of Discussion. But I can’t end the review yet, I have to actually talk about the book. So here goes nothing…
From the start I was interested in Wolf by Wolf because it’s an alternative-history novel, a “what if such and such didn’t happen/end as we know it” kind of book—a genre I enjoy but haven’t read enough of (A good example of this type of book would be Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan Trilogy). So, I had pretty high expectations, and Wolf by Wolf did not let me down.
What if the Axis powers won the war?
This book ultimately explores those possibilities by using its setting and time period to tell the story of Yael. Yael’s experience was nothing short of horrifying. These things were revealed by alternating chapters that told the “then” combined with the present, the “now”. The “then” told Yael’s history, showing her experience through her eyes when she was a child rather than just telling about it later. These chapters were essential to understanding Yael—her fears, determination, all of it. Yael was a complex and interesting character, like many of the others—Luka, Felix, Adele—they all had layers and stories to tell.
The concept of an alternative ending to World War II and a race that spans across continents was fantastic. The idea of skinshifting was also pretty cool. The world building was handled really well, and it was easy to get into the story. Even with all of the different things going on, it worked.
There’s so much more that I could say, but this review would never end. So, final thoughts. The ending left me with some questions, like: What’s in store for Yael next? I want to know, because Wolf by Wolf is a story I’m invested in. It made me root for the characters to succeed every step of the way. And that’s a good thing in my book.
Now the wait for book two begins.
This copy of the book was provided by The Novl Newsletter (Publisher) for this review, thank you!