Review: Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin (Wolf By Wolf #1)

Review: Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin (Wolf By Wolf #1)Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf By Wolf #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers in October 2015
Format: ebook, Hardcover
Source: Library, Purchased
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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 a YA historical fiction novel with a very small science fiction-y twist. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy Wolf by Wolf. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, and I really wasn’t sure how the “skinshifter” element was going to play out in the story. However, Graudin wrote a thrilling, fast-paced novel that had me screaming “why didn’t I see that coming?!?” at the end.

Wolf By Wolf is set in 1956 in a world where the Axis powers won World War II. Every year Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host a motorcycle race across continents in their rule called the Axis Tour. Yael is a girl that suffered through human experimentation at a death camp. As painful as it was, it was that experimentation that allowed her to escape by skinshifting. Now, Yael must impersonate Adele Wolfe, the only female racer in the Axis Tour, to win the race, face Hilter at the Victor Ball, and kill him.

The motorcycle race made for a very interesting story. It wasn’t like the Olympics, with cheering crowds and a good sense of sportsmanship. Injury and death were possible during this race, not only because of the tough terrain but also from your fellow racers trying to sabotage. All of the top contenders, including Yael, had something to lose if they didn’t win this race. Everyone was racing to win. This made for a very action-packed story.

I enjoyed the characters and their relationships. I thought they were all very well developed. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Yael/Adele, Felix, and Luka dynamic. Felix was more of an open book. He had a strong sense of family and desperately wanted to keep his sister, Adele, safe. He just wanted to go home with his sister in tow. Luka, on the other hand, had secrets. Secrets the real Adele knew, but Yael didn’t. It was a difficult situation for Yael to maneuver through.

Which brings me to this idea of skinshifting. I didn’t think I’d like it. The idea of human experimentation makes me cringe. However, it brought home this idea of identity. Throughout the story, I felt like we were trying to figure out everyone’s true identity, including Yael. No one was quite what they seemed on the outside and as media portrayed them to be.

Finally, that twist at the end. It totally threw me for a loop! I won’t say what it is because that would be a huge spoiler. However, I can’t believe I didn’t see it coming, and after reading it, it made so much sense. Like of course that’d happen! Now I absolutely NEED to read the second book Blood for Blood.

I would highly recommend reading Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin, if you haven’t given it a try yet. It was fast-paced, action-packed, and absolutely thrilling. & I want to know everyone’s thoughts. What do you think about the “skinshifter” ability? Did you read Wolf By Wolf and was surprised by the ending like I was? Let me know in the comments!