Thought Provoking and Action Packed

WolfByWolfWolf by Wolf
By: Ryan Graudin
Release Date: October 20th 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

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?

My Thoughts:
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.

Final Thoughts:
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.

Review of I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

IHuntKillersI Hunt Killers
By: Barry Lyga
Release Date: April 3rd 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Format: Paperback
Source: Giveaway Win

My Rating:

What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

My Thoughts:
I recently watched The Fall on Netflix and this spurred me to get into a detective/serial killer reading mood (I even asked for your recommendations). I had won I Hunt Killers and so figured it was a perfect time to ignore my teetering TBR pile and dive in. I’m so happy that I did. I really enjoyed this fast paced, action packed glimpse into what it might be like to have your father be convicted of being a serial killer.

Though considered to be a young adult book some of the descriptions of Jazz’s father’s crimes are gruesome so be prepared for that if you are sensitive to that type of thing. Also, be aware that there are a few times where Jazz recalls and dreams about some of the abuse he suffered at the hand’s of his father. These scenes were done very well though horrible and disturbing.

I’ve read a few books in this genre and always enjoy seeing from the detective and profiler’s prospective. I think we are all a bit curious as to why and how someone can do what serial killers do. They are the ultimate predator and really the scariest ‘monsters’ in my book. I have always been intrigued and horrified about what their day to day life might be like. Because of this, I really thought it was an intriguing approach to follow the point of view of Jazz, a serial killer’s son.

Beyond Jazz’s point of view there were little chapters every once and awhile from the serial killer’s point of view. I didn’t find these chapters all that necessary and felt they really didn’t serve much of a purpose other than presenting a couple of clues to the reader about the identity of the killer.

As I said, Jazz was really the strongest element in I Hunt Killers. His character had so much guilt and lived through abuse I hope no one ever has to suffer through, yet somehow, Lyga still made him relatable to the reader. I was very impressed with how Lyga approached Jazz’s personal concern for his own sanity and morality.

The secondary characters were also well constructed and ample time was given to Jazz’s best friend and girlfriend. I thought their relationships were well executed and I had a clear understanding of their affection towards Jazz. We also get a disturbing glimpse of Jazz’s grandmother (mother of his serial killer dad). I found her character to be horrifying, disturbing and spot on for what you’d expect the mother of a serial killer to be like.

I’m not sure why, but I never felt overly curious about the mystery presented in this novel. I wasn’t able to predict the outcome in full but I never really felt the drive to figure it all out. I enjoyed the sections focusing on Jazz’s psychology and how he had to learn to cope with his abusive childhood. There was a small section where Jazz actually gets to talk face to face with his father and I found that chapter to be one of the strongest.

Final Thoughts:
I enjoyed I Hunt Killers and found that the character development regarding Jazz and insights into his past were the most interesting part of this novel. The actual mystery of who was committing the murders left some to be desired for me.