Format: E-Galley, 388 pages
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, ALT History
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?
Ryan Graudin's Wolf by Wolf is part one of a two part duology that comes on the heals of The Walled City. Wolf by Wolf is a story that is both mind blowing, and amazing in the way it mixes real life horror stories with an alternative history that asks the story, what if? Graudin's world is a place where the the Third Reich under Hitler, and Japan under Emperor Hirohito, won World War II and have claimed equal portions of the world. It is where a young Jewish survivor of a German concentration camp is experimented on to the point where she no longer recognizes her own face, nor does anyone else.
Jael (Jah-ell) is the young Jewish survivor of the doctor known as the Angel of Death's medical experiments to make her look and pass for being Aryan. After years of treatments, Yael has the ability to skinshift into any other person with just a glance at the person she is trying to impersonate. This makes her the idea candidate to take the place of Adele Wolfe, the only woman to participate and win the grueling motorcycle race from Berlin to Tokyo known as the Axis Tour. A Tour that celebrates the Axis of Horrors win over the allies.
Wolf by Wolf flip flops back and forth between Yael's experiences at the concentration camp, to her escape, and joining the resistance against Hitler's Third Reich, to her participation in the Axis Race as Adele Wolfe. You really have to give Graudin credit for doing her story this way. You get to meet the FIVE main characters who helped her, changed her life, and most likely, saved her from being gassed by the Germans. People I know have mentioned that the motorcycle race itself is not unlike the Dakar Rally. I can dig it.
I like that this is an alternative history novel with the backdrop being Post-World War II 1946-1956. I love books and authors that ask the question What, If? What if on December 7, 1941, Japan had joined Germany in invading Russia and not bombed Pearl Harbor? What if America remained an isolationist country and never joined World War II or allied itself with Britain to defeat Germany and Japan and Italy? What if Germany had invaded England (Operation Sea Lion) in 1940 and conquered that Nation? What if Hitler was never assassinated, and still lived today?
The most enjoyable part of this book, however, is the race from Berlin to Japan. Such an entertaining and thrilling race with plenty of action, suspense, breathtaking moments, along with participants who are cutthroat and will do anything to win. I loved Jael. She's such a fierce protagonist with one goal in mind; get close to Hitler so she can kill him. She goes from being sent to a concentration camp at 6, to being a lab rat, to being a member of the resistance, and later, a doppelganger to one of the past victors of the Axis Tour.
I appreciated that Graudin never once hid the atrocities that the Germans were responsible for against the Jews and others that they thought were beneath them. I love that you can feel Jael's inner struggle with who she has become, and whether or not she can find love with someone who doesn't know the real her, just the person she is pretending to be.
I definitely recommend this book, and will be looking forward to the final novel in this duology hopefully releasing in 2016.
**I received this book for free from (Publisher) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**