Published by Little Brown Books on October 20, 2015
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
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Code Name Verity meets Inglourious Basterds in this fast-paced novel from the author of The Walled City.
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?
Set in an alternate history where Hitler has successfully conquered Russia and the majority of the Eastern Hemisphere, Wolf by Wolf follows the story of a Jew girl named Yael whose mission is to kill the heinous dictator. Graudin really immerses us into the world with our narrator Yael sharing her past experiences. Told in “Then” and “Now” chapters where a little of Yael’s past is revealed, the story is definitely a unique one that will interest YA readers looking for an adventure, history fan or not.
“Because tomorrow the end began. She was going to race from Germania to Tokyo. She was going to win the Axis Tour and earn an invitation to the Victor’s Ball. She was going to kill the Fuhrer and spark the death of the Third Reich.
She was going to cross the world and change it.
Or die trying.”
Yael’s character develops so much throughout the story, and sometimes my heart really ached for her. She has been shaped by experimentation as a child, and never really knew what it was like to be in a family… until being thrust into the role of Adele Wolfe. Yael, who is a shape-shifter, pretends to be the former victor of the Axis Tour in order to get closer to the Reich and provide a chance for his assassination – and the start of a rebellion brewing among the oppressed. But to do so, she must survive the race first.
The action was certainly satisfying, as we explore the highs and lows of racing against 19 other competitors. However, Yael doesn’t know how to respond to the actions of Adele’s twin brother, Felix, and Adele’s former love interest, Luka. They both open Yael’s eyes to relationships she’s never had before: a sibling and a romantic interest. Personally, I was quite apathetic to the romance and never got in with the ship. I can’t approve of a relationship where a person is pretending to be someone else… although the way Graudin writes it makes it seem plausible. The sibling relationship was more endearing and hit a little home, thinking about how my own brother is protective of me, as Felix is with Adele. All in all, the race not only progressed Yael’s scheme in murdering Hitler, but also brought her through a journey of self-discovery.
“Who are you? (On the inside?)
The answer to this question was something Yael had to fight for. Her self-reflection was no reflection at all. It was a shattered mirror. Something she had to piece together, over and over again. Memory by memory. Loss by loss. Wolf by wolf.”
Yael was truly a dynamic character, yet I couldn’t fully connect to her. Sure, empathy for her was definitely there, but for some reason she didn’t draw me in all the way. I do think that the sequel will provide more chance of that, though, since hopefully we will be able to see Yael not under someone else’s skin. Either way, I will definitely be checking out the next book! There is definitely a cliffhanger, and the tides of revolution are beginning to form. I just love history and the twists and turns it presents, which fueled my interest in the story of this book.
The writing style was also thrilling to read, yet not to my taste. Yael will use (parantheses) to bring up small details or BOLDED, CAPITALIZED, AND ITALICIZED WORDS to emphasize a thought she has, which drew me to her voice and made me more interested in the story. However, this is a it’s-not-you-it’s-me situation. Although it was fun, I kind of got annoyed with the break in flow of the writing. But again! It’s definitely a me moment, and I can understand when readers praise the unique style.
With a unique world set in a rewritten history that features stubborn and strong-willed characters, Wolf by Wolf will draw you into its adventure right until the last page! The cliffhanger was a nice impact moment that will just leave you panting (like wolves) for more. Yael’s character development was truly amazing to read, yet I couldn’t fully connect to her. Despite that, the writing style brings a flair into Yael’s voice, which will make you rooting for her to hurry up and get racing!