Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1) by Ryan Graudin
Publication Date: November 5th 2015 by Orion Children’s Books
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: Alternate History, Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical, World War II.
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Over ten years since the Nazis won the war, 18 yr old Yael has one mission: to kill Hitler – a captivating second novel from Walled City author, Ryan Graudin.
Once upon a different time, there was a girl who lived in a kingdom of death. Wolves howled up her arm. A whole pack of them-made of tattoo ink and pain, memory and loss. It was the only thing about her that ever stayed the same.Her story begins on a train.
Germania, 1956. Over ten years since the Nazis won the war. 18-year-old Yael is part of the resistance, and she has just one mission: to kill Hitler.
But first she’s got to get close enough to him to do it.
Experimented on during her time at Auschwitz, Yael has the unique ability to change her appearance at will. The only part of her which always remains are the five tattooed wolves on her arm; one for each of the people she’s lost. Using her abilities, she must transform into Adele Wolfe, Germany’s most famous female rider and winner of the legendary Axis Tour; an epic long distance motorcycle race from Berlin to Tokyo, where only the strongest (and wiliest) riders survive. If she can win this, she will be able to get close enough to kill the Fuhrer and change history forever.
But with other riders sabotaging her chances at every turn, Yael’s mission won’t be easy. . .
Wolf by Wolf is an extraordinary and exhilarating journey that keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Following an alternative timeline this story transports us to a world where the Nazi’s and their allies emerged victorious in World War II. In celebration of this victory we see the creation of the Axis Tour, a yearly motorcycle race pitting the best riders against one another in a brutal cross-country journey. This year marks the 10th Anniversary of their victory and nothing is as it seems in this race.
Yael, is a member of the resistance group that has been searching for the prime opportunity to take down this regiment once and for all. As a survivor of the unlawful experiments conducted at Auschwitz, Yael has more cause than anyone to hate the Third Reich and is the perfect candidate to complete the task that will set in motion a chain of events leading to the downfall of this establishment. Her goal – kill Hitler. As a side-effect of the experimentations conducted on her, Yael developed the ability to alter her appearance, thus allowing her to pose as the blond hair, blue eyed Adele Wolfe and enter in this year’s race.
Identity is the key theme in this book; or lack of identity. Due to the experiments conducted on her, Yael no longer recognises who she is and it’s this conflict that fascinated me. The longer Yael spends her time mimicking the identity of Adele Wolfe, the more her own identity is called into question. Being in this race forced Yael to deal with the complexities of navigating the relationships in Adele’s life; her twin brother, Felix and former lover, Luka Lowё. With the time spent with both individuals and the connections formed between them, the lines between Yael and the face used to carry out her mission begin to blur. Keeping both these guys at arm’s length proves to be the toughest, unforeseen challenge for Yael.
While the present timeline follows Yael’s mission we do get an insight into the events that lead her to this moment. Yael’s history is made up of those she lost. To commemorate their memory, wolves are tattooed along her arm as remind to Yael of the sacrifices they made for her. Their role in Yael’s journey is highlighted through the flashbacks that are woven throughout the book and it is these chapters that heighten the horror’s Yael faced and how that loss and the pain is used to fuel her motivation for completing this task.
Yael’s story is heartbreaking. Her strength and resilience is admirable. Yael might just be one of my favourite female protagonists. Her journey is gruelling but her determination always prevails. She undoubtedly has a lot of pressure on her because her success or failure determines the future of the resistance. You can’t help but root for her.
This book is a combination of fact and fiction. The extensive research that went into the events and the individuals mentioned in the story heightens the thought that this scenario could have been our reality. However, I will admit that at times I forgot that this book was actually set in the 1950’s because the world felt a lot more advanced than expected. Overall, Wolf by Wolf is a fast paced, exhilarating and engaging book from start to finish but Yael’s character growth remains to be the heart of the story. I can’t wait to see where the next book takes us.