A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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?
I really didn’t know what to expect from this book because the premise was very intriguing to me but the time period and subject matter was sensitive and could go wrong very easily. Thankfully, I felt this book was very well executed and the topics of World War II and the horrible treatment of the Jewish people were treated with care and respect.
This novel was incredibly fast paced and I found it easy to form an emotional attachment to the characters. Yael was a marvelous character who was bold, committed and though she had been through so much and had the ability to skin-shift she was still easy to relate to. I loved that Graudin added the paranormal element of skin-shifting and mixed it with alternative history. Her explanation to how Yael came about her ability was well thought out and plausible. I was worried this mix of alternate history and the paranormal might not work for me but it did.
The motorcycle racing element to the story added such a tense and suspenseful atmosphere and really had me flying through the pages to see what would happen next. In many action packed books the characters are sort of forgotten but not so in this novel. I was as drawn to the secondary characters as I was to Yael. The story flips from Yael’s present to her past. This gave the reader insight into her experiences prior to the race and really added to the story. I was heartbroken to read about her past but also so drawn to her struggles and rooting for her to succeed.
Because her success hinged on the downfall of others it caused me to really question her actions and what my thoughts were on how she was set to succeed. I loved this element of the book and felt that it added so much to Yael’s character. I was as mixed in emotions as she was- to see kindness from some of the contestants but to also not know their motivations. Be prepared though this book ended on a hell of a cliff-hanger. The type of cliff hanger where you are staring at that blank page after the end not believing that there aren’t words…how could that really be it? Give me the next book NOW PLEASE.
Wolf by Wolf was a thought-provoking, action packed emotional read that left me wanting more. I felt that the subject matter was handled well and the characters were well developed and intriguing.