October 22, 2015

Review: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Publication date: Oct 20, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult - Historical/Sci-fi
Source: Received ARC at BEA
Summary: It's 1956 & the Axis powers of the Third Reich & Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain & Russia, Hitler & 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 & kill Hitler. A survivor of human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift & 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? (greads.com)

The good
If there’s one thing that I can say about Ryan Graudin’s books, it’s that she tells stories that feel different from any other books I’ve read. There’s a grittiness and an urgency she always manages to capture. In Wolf by Wolf, we’re introduced to an alternate reality of 1956. In it, Germany, Italy and Japan (for you history buffs: the Axis powers of WW2) rule the world and Adolf Hilter is at the helm of it all. To commemorate their victory over Britain and Russia, an annual motorcycle race from Germany to Japan, known as the Axis Tour, is held and the winner is given an exclusive invite to the Victor’s ball, at which Adolf Hitler is present. This is where Yael comes in. She’s the survivor of a death camp and a science experiment inflicted upon her while there gave unexpected results. It gave her the power to skinshift and the only ones who know are the people who took her in after her escape. AKA The Resistance. With her on their side, they might be able to finally take down Hitler.

So here’s where things get exciting, with that urgency I mentioned earlier. The Axis Tour only allows boys to enter but last year, a girl snuck in and won! Her name is Adele Wolf and it’s now Yael’s mission to impersonate her (which also means having to kidnap the real Adele) and sign up for the race as her. She’s prepared for everything about the race. How to ride a motorcycle, how to fight and shoot a gun, plus all the details of this girl she has to pretend to be. But she is not prepared for dealing with Felix, Adele’s twin brother or Luka, the boy and a fellow Axis victor, that Adele clearly has a past with. My favorite parts of the book were definitely her watching her try to get the best of them and all her competitors during the race but also the flashbacks to all the people who have meant a great deal to her. It’s through those memories that we see and understand how she got here in the first place.

(Some) reservations
While I was certainly sucked into the story, I can’t quite say the same about the characters. I mean I liked them and I was interested in them, but I was missing an emotional connection. I wish Yael had built stronger relationships with the two boys and her fellow victors (there was a girl she somewhat befriended and more of that would’ve been great). I also wanted to learn more about the Resistance and how they truly felt about Yael’s abilities. Did they really care or did they see her as a means to an end? And by the way, that ending. It felt too sudden and even a bit anti-climactic. After being on this ride with Yael, I expected a lot more closure or pay-off in those final pages.

Do I recommend?
I do. If you want a fast-paced entertaining read, I do think this fits the bill. But if you want something you can feel more emotionally invested, just be aware of what I mentioned in my reservations.

Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

What kind of race would you participate in?
Probably something with very little running. Hah! I haven't really felt motivated to join any races, although I have participated in walks for a good cause. That's more my thing.

2 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed WOLF BY WOLF! While I too felt a lack of connection with the characters, the quick pacing and interesting details for the story were enough to keep me turning pages without hesitation. I'm just really glad that there's going to be a second book!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the honest review here. I've been a bit hesitant about this one (and actually decided to skip it myself) because there is something really bothersome to me about a character getting magic powers from the Holocaust. It just rubs me the wrong way. I'm happy to hear the story is high action but the lack of connection to the characters just gives me even more pause.

    ReplyDelete