Alternate History, Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Review: Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf

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?

5 stars

Historical Fiction |  Alternate History | Young Adult Fiction

Graudin said it best in one of her recent Tweets – Punching Nazis + X-Men: the Wolf by Wolf Series; this is point on. By far one of my favorite duologies I have ever read (definitely a favorite read in 2017), but I get ahead of myself with this statement…

Wolf by Wolf has a damn good compelling premise, it is jammed packed with action, betrayal, the uncertainty of the ending. It is based off of a really heart pounding horrific ‘what ifs’  that is, again, one of the most fascinating ideas I have came across. It is definitely what captivated me when I first saw it, I really enjoy historical fiction and to be honest, I enjoy World War II themed premise because it is such an amazing growth for writing creativity. During WWII, more specifically Wolf by Wolf, it explores the underlying possibilities of Hitler’s medical experimental procedures which as we know has truth to what occurred with the concentration camp prisoners. We can all see where this is going, there are large range of movies or other books that explore these ‘what ifs’, these experimental procedures done by the Nazis – it is actually extremely saddening to know it has a basis of truth.

Graudin takes this to a ‘what if’ Hitler won WWII within part to adding in the next ‘what if’ scenario of experimental genetics that creates a new type of human creature – a shifter. These shifters have the ability to turn their physical appearance, face takers or skinshifter: Hello Yael.

Obviously this is just the tip of the iceberg of the plot. Because Hitler won WWII, the commemoration of this victory is the Axis Tour, which is an annual motorcycle race across continents and the winner gets an audience with Adolf Hitler. This is obviously the main goal of the resistance, Yael being part of this – wanting to see Hitler dead. Because Yael is a shifter, her mission is to shift into Adele Wolf, who is the only female racer in the tour, and to win. This becomes difficult as Felix, Adele’s twin brother, and Luka, Adele’s former lover are also in the race watching Adele, and essentially watching Yael being Adele.

Right off the bat, I adore Yael. I loved her growth from start to finish of Wolf by Wolf. She was completely pained and strong at the same time – by fair one of my more favorable leading females. Throughout the novel, you get a sense of Yael’s life, as a former camp prisoner, witnessing what she had, going through what she had, as the reader you feel her suffering. Yael at the beginning is extremely standoffish as well, I mean can you blame her, but her growth to learn to adapt, to trust – she really evolves. Granted this is something, as the reader, worries me because I wonder what will come of this, but nonetheless I like the direction of Yael. She opens herself up to be broken more, making her feel more human after feeling so much like an experiment, disconnected from everything, being used as a tool.

I will admit however Felix is not a favorable character of mine, but not because he is not a great character, just for me, I know he is not someone I trust. I find him weak and feeble throughout the novel and I also know he would turn on Yael, I can feel it. This isn’t because I think he is a devote Hitler supporter, but he is a one-dimensional type character, not a villain but not a trusted ally for Yael. I also find he is a bit on the annoying side – he just all around irks me. It is Luka though that swooned my heart from the first introduction. I absolutely loved his personality, he basically sweeps out masculinity in the right ways, and I can just see a smolder face. At first though, I had a inkling he would either be someone trustful to Yael, which is what I really wanted, or someone who might be the deceiver but I knew his character would be absolutely perfect to the plot. Every time he and Yael were together, I was on my seat trying to see where it would go.

Not only is the character dynamics, both in the growth and connections, but it is the world building is beyond complex and captivating. Graudin does such an astounding job creating this world. There is never a question of where the tour is, or what it feels like to be present. This is what world building should be, Graudin did a damn fine job with how she created this premise. I honestly cannot give enough praise for this novel. I do not think there is a single thing I can say I dislike about Wolf by Wolf.

Writing Style – Phenomenal

World Building – Goryhell Brilliant

Character Dynamics – Fucking Beautiful

Check, Check, and Check… I am satisfied.

I highly recommend Wolf by Wolf, it is heart pounding, gut wrenching powerfully good read that is both satisfying, emotional and fast paced action packed that leaves you breathless and choking on your tears. I love the characters. I love the world building. It is definitely a novel, hell the duology is something that I guarantee once you start you cannot put it down.

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