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Monday, February 22, 2016

Wolf By Wolf Engrossing But Putdownable

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

In the alternate world of Ryan Graudin's newest novel, Wolf By Wolf, Adolf Hitler remains in power. The year is 1956 and the reclusive Führer rules Europe and half of Asia.  Despite nonagression pacts with other nations, he's eyeing the rest of the continents, discontent until the entire globe belongs to him.  For now, though, Hitler is celebrating.  The Axis Tour is an annual motorcycle race across Europe and Asia, an event that pits teens from Hitler Youth and the Great Japan Sincerity Association against each other in a televised spectacular that applauds the joint victories belonging to Hitler and the emperor of Imperial Japan.  The prize?  A meet-and-greet with the Führer himself.

Yael has one goal: kill Adolf Hitler.  The 17-year-old Jew blames the leader for the extermination of not just her family, but also her people.  A victim of death camp science experiments, she has evolved into a skinshifter.  Thanks to Nazi innovation, Yael can change at will almost everything about herself—height, weight, eye color, the timbre of her voice, etc.  With the blessing of the Resistance, she will use this power to impersonate the Tour's only female winner—Adele Wolfe.  She will use her comely disguise to win the race, lure an unguarded Hitler onto the dance floor, and kill the man who stole everything from her.  Failure is not an option.

As Yael begins the 20,780 kilometer race, which will take her from her home in Germania (formerly Berlin, the city is now the capital of the Third Reich) to the glittering metropolis of Tokyo, she begins to understand just how dangerous her mission really is.  Not only must she stay in character as Adele Wolfe at all times, but she must fend off the attention of her competitors (one of whom is Adele's twin brother), and survive the underhanded dealings of the other riders.  If Yael manages to emerge victorious, she still has to find the strength to murder the most powerful man in the world—and get away with the crime.  Does she truly have the cold-blooded conviction to do such a thing?  Will she even get a chance?  It all depends on a Jewish death camp survivor-in-disguise winning a grueling and vicious race ... does Yael have what it takes to fulfill the most daring mission in history?

I loved Ryan Graudin's last novel, The Walled City, for of its vivid setting, heart-pounding plot, and sympathetic characters.  This one, however, wasn't nearly as compelling.  Yael is most certainly sympathetic, but for some reason, I just didn't feel much connection with her.  Most of Wolf By Wolf's cast, in fact, seems underdeveloped to me.  I wanted more complexity from them, more depth.  Plot-wise, the novel is interesting and exciting.  Not thrilling enough for me to read in one sitting (which is how I devoured The Walled City), but still engrossing.  Overall, I liked Wolf By Wolf, didn't love it.  I don't know if I'll bother with the sequel (Blood for Blood comes out November 1, 2016) or not.  We'll see.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. I really liked this one. My book club chose this one for March. It will be an interesting discussion I think! Great review.

  2. Oh my! I think this one sounds so good! I can't believe you didn't like it. Sounds like I need to lower my expectations when I finally pick it up.


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