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?
©2015 Ryan Graudin (P)2015 Hachette Audio
When reviewing books I try to be fair; I appreciate that not everyone will be looking for the same things in a book.
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin is a young adult alternative history novel set in a world in which the Nazis won the Second World War. We follow our protagonist, Yael, who is a death camp survivor, and her mission to kill Hitler. This mission hangs on the fact that Yael’s experiences in the death camp gave her the ability to change her appearance to look like any other woman. She must impersonate famous motor cyclist Adele Wolfe, the only person in recent times who has been able to get close to the Führer. To achieve this goal she must first compete in a trans continental bike race from Germania (Berlin) to Tokyo while not revealing her secret to Adele’s brother and former flame Luka Löwe.
I have to say this book really got under my skin. I was completely invested in Yael’s story and rooting for her - I lay awake at night thinking of her story.
What I liked
The protagonist. I loved that Yael is a blend of kick ass heroine and vulnerability. Graudin did an excellent job of making the mission personal to Yael through the use of flashbacks and the imagery of the wolf tattoos. Her relationships with both Felix and Luka were well written and added great extra tension to the story. Yael’s childhood hardships and her struggles to come to terms with her past made her a wonderfully engaging heroine.
The audio narration. After hearing the Audible sample, I immediately chose to experience this in audiobook format. Ms Lewis had me when she pronounced “Adele” correctly in the German way (Ah-day-luh.) The correct pronunciation of the German words really added to the story for me. Ms Lewis was also able to bring across the different voices and personalities excellently. She broke my heart as well when portraying young Yael in the death camp calling for her mama. This is definitely one to listen to.
The writing style. Ms Graudin has a writing style which is both poetic and immediate. I particularly enjoyed the animal imagery throughout the book with Yael’s being likened to a she wolf and Luka Löwe’s being compared to a lion. The way in which the wolf tattoos were symbolic of Yael’s past - and motivation for her mission - and her struggle to turn her past into a strength was very well written.
The pacing. In general, the pacing was excellent. The tension of the cross continental race kept the plot moving along and the flashbacks were integrated at appropriate times. However for me personally, the interruption of the race-flashback-race flow at a certain point in Russia didn’t work so well - I kept wanting them to just get back on with the race.
What I didn’t like
Other than the minor pacing issue, there was nothing I didn’t like about the book. I will definitely be checking out the sequel when it become available.
I gave Wolf by Wolf a well deserved five stars out of five.
I own 605 Audible Audio books. (See my Stunned Look) That can be a good or bad thing. Either way I'm always entertained and enlightened!
Very moving and exciting. An ending I didn't expect. . A bleak future that could easily have happened. A story deeply horrifying in the revelations of a mad man's actions toward a people. Told through the eyes of a child then teenager making it personal and hard to ignore. The hurting of a child tears at most people's hearts.
LOVED this fast-paced story with excellent writing and good character development. I'd call it historical fiction, except there's more to it...a couple of romance and science fiction elements that manage to add to and not detract from the story. The main character is quite likeable, the motorcycle race is exciting, and the character interaction adds depth, not to mention the flashbacks/memories of the concentration camp. Highly recommend.
Very engrossing and fast paced. The narrator's accents were sometimes a bit campy, though, and so took some getting use to. By the end I was okay with her, with the exception of some of her villainous, male, german characters, who sounded straight up cartoonish. (Here's lookin' at you, Hitler.)
I would buy another book by Ryan! I would also buy another book from Christa Lewis. I just didn't particularly care for her mispronunciation/accent of the Japanese characters
I'd compare it to the Book Thief. It also takes place during a similar time period, and the setting is sort of the same.
As previously mentioned, She had a lot of Mispronunciations of Japanese names, and I found her accent for those characters kind of offensive to be honest
Overall, This book is wonderful! I just think that the Narrator should have been instructed on how to properly pronounce main character names,
The premise is good but I lost interest in the first half hour. Basically, in my opinion, a repeat of other books that does not really show anything new.
I would try
Great story. Could have used more development of the sleeping time keeper. What was his motivation? Was he up late the night before? Does he get punished for falling asleep twice on the job? These questions will probably be addressed in the sequel if there ever is one.
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