Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Release date: October 20th, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Her story begins on a train.
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, 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 in Tokyo.
Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael 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 racer, 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 grows 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?
I honestly don’t even know where to start with this review. I bought the book when it was first released and it sat on my shelf until collecting dust. Again, I was afraid of being burned by all of the hype surrounding it, but that hype was well deserved. My fear was completely unfounded and I’m so glad that I finally pushed myself to read this book. I’m kicking myself for not starting it sooner!
Ultimately what pushed me to read it was work. The school curriculum is full of older books that don’t necessarily appeal to teenagers. They all get excited about new releases or books that don’t follow the same formula. I’m all for the classics, but it’s nice to go outside of the box once in a while. Wolf by Wolf was one of the books on the list for the next school year so I had no more excuses…I had to read it.
The book has one of the most interesting and creative plots that I have ever read. Yes, there are books with similar ideas or themes, but the way this one was written was fantastic! The mixture of pure emotion and action with a bunch of twists and turns resulted in a very compelling read. The book is based on two major what ifs. What if the Nazis didn’t lose the Second World War and what if their disgusting human experiments created the ability for humans to change their forms? The bringing together of historical fiction and fantasy elements could have gone completely wrong, but it worked well here. I never doubted that this couldn’t have happened. Every single word, action, event was believable.
It’s never easy to write or read about the Holocaust. Most people know about this horrific period in history, but less know about the medical experiments that were performed on concentration camp inmates. The author handles this part of the book with great care. The story’s protagonist, Yael, is the victim of a medical experiment that ultimately leaves her with the ability to change her appearance at will. However, this has left her with a loss of identity and an abundance of rage. I instantly liked Yael. She’s strong and determined, but even though she’s lost so much, she hasn’t lost her humanity. The way her story is told, through her point of view and flashbacks to her time in the concentration camp, enables the reader to truly know Yael. In a way, the read is on a journey of discovery with her. This personal connection made me become fully invested in what happened to her.
If you follow me on Goodreads, it looked like it took me forever to read this book. In a way it did, but it’s mostly because I was making notes and going over parts to create worksheets and lesson plans. It’s not a fast read, but Wolf by Wolf is a steady read. It forces you to engage with each character and the story, no matter how difficult it could get at times. The ending though…oh the ending! I need to read the sequel NOW! I have so many questions about the plot and characters. It just left me hanging. November is such a long wait for someone like me who lacks patience. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend that you do so right now!