Wednesday, October 28, 2015

[Review: Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin]

"Wolf by Wolf"
Author: Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #1
Pages: 400
Genre: YA, Alternate History, Magical Realism
Date Published: October 20th, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format Read: eARC provided by publisher (via NetGalley) for honest review


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?

My Thoughts:

An Open Letter To Wolf By Wolf,

I've never read anything like you before, but now I know that I'd like every book to be as awesome as you are. I can't even put into words what you made me feel, but I'm going to have to move past that, because this is a review after all. You gave me a new look at World War II. I didn't ever want to imagine what it would have been like if Hitler won the war, but you made me see it. You also gave me one of the most amazing Jewish protagonists that I've read in years. All I want to say is thank you, and also thank you for just being the beginning. I'm beyond excited that I'll get to have more time with your story in the future!

-The White Unicorn

I really enjoyed Graudin's The Walled City, so when I heard that she was taking on an alternate version of World War II, I knew I had to read this novel. Though I knew I needed to read it, I never would have guessed that this novel would be what it was. It's flat out genius. Graudin's writing is perfect for telling the story. It's raw, it's heartbreaking, but it's also full of hope, and an extreme lust for life. She has this way of blending real facts, and the parts of the story that she made up, perfectly. I have to say that even though I know this book isn't historically accurate, I bought into it without a hitch. 

The past that Graudin created is horrifying. Seeing what could have happened had Hitler won World War II isn't something I've ever really thought about, but it clearly would have been terrible. I'm glad that this story is fiction. There's just no other way to put it. 

Yael is one of the best Jewish protagonists that I've read in a really long time. The fact that she has the ability to skinshift only adds to her appeal, but to be honest it's who she is inside that makes me like her so much. Sure, she's not always likable and she carries the world around on her shoulders, but she's a Jewish girl who's still alive, and everyone she's ever loved is long dead. It makes her mission, and her story all that much more touching. It's so strange to be touched so deeply by a character who is so harsh, but it's what makes this book what it is. The characters are brilliant.

Honestly, it's so refreshing to see a cast of characters like this. It's because Yael is pretending to be Adele, and because she is, it blurs the lines between who she is to the other characters. You start believing that she's Adele just because Adele's brother Felix, and her old flame Luka believe it. In fact sometimes Yael even believes it. It adds an extra layer into the story that's glorious. 

Felix and Luka bring a lot to the surface of Yael/Adele's character. I enjoyed both of their parts in the plot. I also have to give Graudin a shout out for the rest of the secondary cast. No one is left behind, even the dead, and I couldn't have been more pleased by the fact.

Add in the fact that Graudin's world building is perfection, and the fact that she weaves wolves into the story as often as she can, and you have a book that I think everyone should read. It's about the human condition, wrapped in delightful storytelling. We'll never forget the horrifying facts of actual history, and this book will make sure that you don't forget those events, or ones that we can only imagine. 

5 Unicorns = Get your hand on this NOW!

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