Young Adult Book Review: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf   
by Ryan Graudin
On Sale Date: Available Now
Juvenile Fiction \ Action & Adventure
Ages 15 And Up, Grades 10 to 17
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 400 pages
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Amazon | Goodreads

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?

"Once upon a different time, there was a girl who lived in a kingdom of death. Wolves howled up her arm. A whole pack of them— made of tattoo ink and pain, memory and loss. It was the only thing about her that ever stayed the same. Her story begins on a train."

WOLF BY WOLF is a fast-paced, action-packed, and nearly unputdownable book that manages to make you want to jump up and down and cheer for the heroine Yael. Ryan Graudin asks "What if?" the Axis had won World War II and WOLF BY WOLF answers with a both a thoughtful and highly entertaining read -one I did not want to end!

First book in a duology, WOLF BY WOLF launches the reader into a brutal, adrenaline filled cross-continental motorcycle race from Berlin to Tokyo, where our heroine Yael is on a secret mission to impersonate the identity of previous year's only female victor, Adele Wolf. Her goal: win the race and assassinate Hitler.

What makes this such a great read is the way the alternate history is made so real and believable. Told through Yael's voice, the story alternates in time between the early years of Yael's life at a Death Camp to later as a teen where she is trained as a spy and taking part in a dangerous rebel movement. 

Yael is one of those heroines you can't but help cheer for. Strong and resilient, she is determined to take back the identity stolen from her. From the moment Yael enters that boxcar as a child to her morning visits with the German doctor, your heart will be racing at the injustice and horror of it all. Yet, these moments are brilliantly interspaced with flash forwards of Yael's survival as a teen spy, only now with the ability to skinshift into another humans form. Yael's struggle with identity as she gets ever closer to her target becomes increasingly heartfelt and dangerous.

With high-speed, dare-devil style motorcycle racing and the dangers one would expect in a spy thriller, WOLF BY WOLF is a thrill ride. Yet, at the same time it is thoughtful and examining as it looks at a very dark time in history - both exceptionally well done.  

Please Note: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in exchange for my fair and honest review. Thank you, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for review opportunity.