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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin |
Really cool YA alternate history

By 22:00:00 , , ,

Her story begins on a train.

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, 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 in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael 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 racer, 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 grows 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?

✱ Pages: 388 (hardcover)
✱ Publication date: October 2015
✱ Series: Wolf by Wolf #1
✱ Provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I went in only knowing that this was an alternate history where Hitler lived. Pretty interesting (and scary) premise, right?

The Plot

I can't believe I actually read a book that's basically about motorcycle racing. I have absolutely no interest in motorcycles or racing... or motorcycle racing. But Wolf by Wolf is so good. I got really caught up in the plot, especially because the story-telling happens in the 'then' and 'now' - describing Yael's childhood and the horrors she has seen, as well as the deadly race she is caught in, in the present. Wolf by Wolf keeps moving at a fast pace (literally and figuratively), and there's something really original about this alternate history.


A superb protagonist who faces her problems head on and struggles to do what she thinks is right,Yael is interesting and relatable. Because of her peculiar ability to skinshift ( - to change her looks at will), she takes on what could be the most important task in the resistance against Hitler, and she concentrates on that mission in a way that really makes you respect her. The rest of the resistance is easy to side with too, and the other characters who take part in the Axis Tour get more and more interesting as the story progresses and we learn about them, little by little.

Important Themes

Graudin's brilliant writing brings the story to life and makes us wonder about questions of morality and identity. These are pretty big themes to grapple with, but it's done extremely well: Yael's ability to skinshift makes you wonder what it is that makes a person who they are. If you can change the way you look, who does that make you? Questions of morality come up too - is it right to do things that are wrong if it's for the greater good? Important things are explored in a very smart way in this story, and I couldn't help but appreciate that.

Exciting and exceedingly enjoyable, Wolf by Wolf is an amazing work of alternate history.
Have you read this one or other books that focus on alternate history?

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