Title : Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1)
Author : Ryan Graudin
Publication date : October 20th 2015
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre : YA Historical Fiction
Synopsis : 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? (From Goodreads)
She’d already lost her face. She could not let the rest of herself (However dark, however broken) slip away. So she traced and she named. She hurt and she raged. She remembered.
I started this book not knowing much about it, almost blind. All I knew was that this is an alternate historical fiction with Hitler governing more than half of the world and a girl that enters a motorcycle race to try and kill him. I didn’t know who she was or how she was going to do it. And I had the wrong idea that she could change into a wolf (haha! Don’t laugh at me I already laughed at myself).
My huge obsession with WWII was fed, oh yes ! Deeply, amazingly fed. In ways that actual history could never do, it answered the question that was always lurking underneath, in my subconscious, which is: What if Hitler had won? What then? The plot is unique, the characters real, the pain, the hurt breathtaking. This is the story of Yael, a girl without a face, or maybe with too many faces. After the Great Victory, she finds herself at a very young age emprisoned in a camp where a Doctor (Dr. Geyer) experiments on her which results in her dark hair and eyes to turn more “Aryan appropriate” and most importantly, it gave her the ability skinshift. We follow her story many years later as she impersonates a former victor of the Axis tour (Adele Wolfe) , enters the race in the hope to win it, get to meet the Führer and kill him.
The writing is pure art if you ask me. It is flawless. Every word is chosen carefully to fit the story, to form sentences that let the full impact of the harshness of those dark times hit me in the face, the emotions I felt were magnified, as if I were there. I could feel every loss, all the pain crawling under my skin. And this book is 100% painful, emotionally draining. Sometimes, I had to stop reading for a few minutes so that I could take a breather. And don’t even get me started on the rollercoaster that this book was. IT IS CRAZY GUYS ! Everytime I think things are looking up something happens and we are back to square 0 or even -1.
The chapters go back and forth between the Now (1956) and Then which traces Yael’s past from being brought to the camp to joining the resistance, and getting her mission. I love Yael so much. She went through hell and back again, and she never let those hardships bring her down, they forged her into a warrior, a strong young woman who would do anything to save everyone from Hitler’s claws. I especially loved her as a child. She was so endearing and her courage unsettling, what she went through is something no kid could survive but there was a maturity about her, something more that made me fall in love with her.
Luka Löwe (Adele’s fling during the previous tour and maybe Yael’s too, I DON’T KNOW!) is the kind of character you get mixed feelings about, I absolutely love him but I also hate him, and I think that that fits him as I find him kind of morally ambiguous. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t care much for Felix (Adele’s twin brother), he was just like background noise to me, he was a way to help the plot move along and flow nicely, not an actual character that I got attached to or cared for. Talking about flow, I also liked how all the history is laid down, it is settle, all in proper times not like “BAM ! THIS AND THIS HAPPENED BEFORE !”
The flashbacks were also a way for the author to introduce the meaning of the five wolves tattoo that hid Yael’s inmate numbers inked into her arm.
“Babushka – the one who gave her purpose . Mama – the one who gave her life. Miriam – the one who gave her freedom. Aaron-Klaus – The one who gave her a mission. Vlad – the one who gave her pain. These were the names she whispered in the dark. These were the pieces she brought back into place. These were the wolves she rode to war.”
I loved the valkyrie analogy. She is the Valkyrie and these people are the wolves that carry her to destination, they are the reason she is who she is and she never forgets that.
Oh Ryan Graudin, what are you doing to my heart? I absolutely ADORED this book and I don’t think I can wait for the next one “Blood for Blood” to come out in November, IT IS SO FAR AWAY.
Would I recommend ?
THIS BOOK MADE IT INTO MY FAVORITES! The big historical fiction fan in me is overjoyed. If you’re like me, go read it.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Wolf by Wolf ? If so, what did you think of it?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.
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