Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – Our Write Side

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?

From the author of The Walled City comes a fast-paced and innovative novel that will leave you breathless.

Book Title: Wolf by Wolf
Ryan Graudin
Historical Fiction/Romance/Sci-Fi

Amazon rating: 4.5

Reviewer: Katheryn Avila


5 stars!

When I picked up this book, I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I do.  I went into it thinking it was going to be something along the lines of The Hunger Games and, while it was reminiscent of Katniss’ story to an extent, Wolf by Wolf is its own thing entirely. Personally, I think it’s infinitely better. Ryan Graudin weaves an action-packed story full of intrigue, betrayal, and suspense that literally kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time I spent reading it. Between amazingly written characters and a scenario that should be impossible to imagine, Yael’s story pulled me in and didn’t let me go until long after I finished reading it.

Yael, as the synopsis mentions, is a Jewish survivor of the concentration camps. Not only that, but she is a survivor of a series of experiments conducted by a deranged doctor in an attempt to artificially create Aryan features. As a result of the experiments, she gains the ability to change her appearance – everything down to her bone structure – into whoever she wants. She joins the resistance and uses her ability in an attempt to overthrow the Third Reich. Through Yael’s eyes, we receive a vivid and heart wrenching depiction of the concentration camps, and what a Hitler-won world would look like. Her experiences haunt her and the reader through the whole book as she trains, prepares, and competes in the Axis Tour. Her character is ruthless and determined, though she struggles with her own identity and longing for a normal life. Yael isn’t the only strong woman in the book, as Adele proves even in the brief glimpse of her we get, that she’s just as strong and capable. In the previous year’s race, Adele impersonated her twin brother just to prove her worth in an attempt to do more than just become a breeder in Hitler’s regime. The ladies aren’t the only good characters, either. Both Felix and Luka – though they’re on the enemy’s side – are sympathetic and written in such a way that it’s easy to imagine them as real people. I think my favorite part of the way the characters and stories are written is that Graudin never even comes close to presenting any of them as entirely good or entirely evil. Yael is perfectly capable of ruthless violence and Felix is just as capable of kindness. After Yael, Felix is my favorite character, and I identify most with his need to protect his sister.

The book’s setting spans the entirety of what would have been the Axis Powers’ territories if they won the war. Having a motorcycle race brilliantly allowed the writer to show so many different landscapes and glimpses of cultures and the implications of the war’s outcome. Graudin never lingers long in describing the setting, but that doesn’t take away from how vivid or real it felt. Reading about the race and Yael’s journey felt much more like watching a movie, and the book was over before I realized it. Leaving me wanting more doesn’t come close to covering how I felt after turning the last page. I can’t gush enough about how well-written the book was as a whole – hence the five stars. If you only ever pick up one work of alternate history fiction, it needs to be this one.

Did you know this book is on our Summer Reading List?

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