Title: Wolf By Wolf (Wolf By Wolf #1)
Author: Ryan Graudin
Provided Synopsis: 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?
Review: Premise, premise, premise: say it with me now, because this one was golden. In Wolf By Wolf, Ryan Graudin asks her readers to imagine a world in which Hitler and the Axis Powers win the war. All of the atrocities of his tyranny continue on, leading a Jewish child into a concentration camp where she becomes the subject of experimental trials to purify genetics. After all that had been done to her, this girl grows up and goes on to join with resistance fighters who give her the mission to kill Adolf Hitler.
Now, this is the point where my knowledge of the book stopped and my assumptions began; if you want to go into this story blind like I did then I suggest you stop reading immediately.
Otherwise, I want to talk about my assumptions, which based upon the book’s title had me thinking that the experiments performed on Yael had given her the ability to turn into a wolf. Imagine it, if you will: girl gets the mission to kill Hitler, and she attacks him: as a wolf! This is not what came to pass, but how wonderful could that have been?
I digress, however, that Yael’s experimentation gives her the ability to skinshift, and she uses this talent (for lack of a better word) to masquerade as an Aryan girl who has been within close proximity to Hilter before. In order for Yael to be close enough to complete her mission, she will have to take Adele Wolfe’s place on the Axis Tour, which is a motorcycle race from Germany to Japan taken by the strongest teenagers in both superpowers. The book becomes a high-action-paced story with betrayals, and lies, and strength, and the will to do whatever it takes to survive. Even more interesting is the underlying struggle of Yael as she must pretend to be another while coming to terms with the loss of her own identity so many years ago because of what was done to her people and so many others.
I would recommend this book for the premise alone; it really is unlike anything I have come across in YA fiction before, and it did deliver in terms of interest. All the other factors that come with the premise are also strong, particularly the ending with the way it concludes this chapter of the story (yes, this is a series) while setting-up another interesting story to come.