Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1) by Ryan Graudin (2015)
YA Fiction | WWII | Sci-Fi
“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?”
pooled ink Review:
This book took me by surprise. If I’m shamefully honest I’ll admit that I tend to shy away from anything war-related. World War II in particular is one of the most brutal and well-documented wars and so yeah I tend to skirt around any books or movies that play around with the subject. Do not dwell but never forget and always remember to learn… Gah, I hate war. It’s just a bloody reminder of how selfish and misguided humans can be.
That being said I hope you don’t think me a terrible person. I’d also like to say that this book defied all expectations. Sure it was filled with sadness and harsh truths, but that wasn’t all of it. Not by a 20,000 kilometer race.
Fast-paced action, intense rivalries, haunting ghosts, and boundaries being pushed further than anyone knew possible filled these pages. Every time a chapter titled itself “THEN” I would clench my teeth, shore up my dread, and face the past with Yael. Whenever a chapter announced itself with “NOW” my heart would race eager to catch up with the racers, scrutinize their motives and plans.
Yael’s story is an incredible one and as the book interwove her past with her present she held me captivated. Interestingly enough it is also Yael that brings in a bit of a sci-fi twist to the story. It wasn’t overdone or spotlighted but it gave the whole plot a unique edge. She’s a skinshifter and her secret changes everything.
So many of the characters will stick with you and the ending will drive you desperate to know more. It’s not a cliffhanger really. I mean the goal set out in this book begins and ends, but the story stops on the brink of chaos and you’re left grasping for more with a real need to know what becomes of Felix, Luka, Geyer, Yael, and all of the others roped into the riptide of change swamping the Third Reich.
Honestly I feel that this could make an epic movie. It’s filled with heart, action, betrayals, twists, and so much more. Actually on that note I’d recommend watching the show The Man in the High Castle. It’s on Amazon (also a book by Philip K. Dick) and it’s utterly brilliant. Very well done. The level of detail alone…! Wolf by Wolf plays with the question of what if the Nazis won the war? Similarly The Man in the High Castle ponders the same question, although they focus their story on the U.S. under Japanese and Nazi rule.
I just finished binge-watching the TV show and pairing it with reading this book was overwhelming but addicting. Both follow similar yet very different visions of the future and how those who survive choose to fight back if they fight at all. That’s something that I wish this book explored just a bit more, although I feel it will be in the sequel. The show does a good job of exploring “good guys” and “bad guys” and just how similar the “enemies” are to the “heroes.” Everyone has something they’re willing to die for: family, honor, duty, love, money, etc. You definitely get that feeling in this book as well, characters that are more than just the empire they represent.
Okay, sorry I sort of started getting off track and talking about The Man in the High Castle (but really, you should check it out. Also my brother and I are in consensus that Frank Frink is the utter worst and should disappear forever). Back to this book though…
A lot is packed into this book and it’s hard to believe that only three weeks pass through its pages. I wasn’t convinced this would be quite my thing but I stand corrected and ready to read more. I want to know where the road will take Volchitsa next.
Wolf by Wolf is a racing road of its own as it surges with adrenaline, skids through memory, and gnashes its teeth on the heels of all who stand in its way to the finish line. Intriguing and captivating from start to finish this book tells a different tale of history, one that will lure you in before you can run.
Purchase here: Wolf by Wolf
Check out The Man in the High Castle
Meet Ryan Graudin!
Ryan Graudin was born in Charleston, South Carolina, with a severe case of wanderlust. When she’s not traveling, she’s busy writing and spending time with her husband and wolf dog. She is the author of Invictus, the Wolf By Wolf duology, The Walled City, and the All That Glows Series.