BOOK REVIEW: Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1) by Ryan GraudinWolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1)
by Ryan Graudin
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


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?

From the author of The Walled City comes a fast-paced and innovative novel that will leave you breathless.

You must never forget the dead.
Remember and be rended. Be rendered.
Look straight, where the danger is.
Reach the bottom of the breath
                                                                                                              And shoot.

Wolf by Wolf challenged me in ways I can’t even begin to explain. But maybe this is a good start:

There’s this hilarious moment in the Grinch with Jim Carrey (what part ISN’T hilarious with him in that movie?) when he says: ‘Kids today: So desensitized by movies and television.’

And I think that applies here. I believe with my whole heart I’ve had my blinders on. I’ve had one EXTREME soft spot since I was a child (though, I have [and always have had] MANY because I’m an extremely empathetic person), and they are of the furry, four-legged variety. But any animal, really. My point is this: I have read so many fucked up books throughout my life, but the only books that have ripped at my heart and pissed me off most have centered on animal abuse, dogs dying or being murdered, etc.. You get the picture.

And I’m not blind. I know what goes on in the world-But I’ve always turned my head in the other direction. Does that make sense? I’m one of those people who tries to see the good in everyone, who wants to believe all these bad things aren’t happening, who was always SO naïve, and still am, really, and just…I wanted to shut all the bad things in the world out. I don’t want to know about it. I don’t want to hear about it. I don’t want to cry-especially with animals.

And like I said-I’ve never not known what goes on…I just turn a blind eye or a deaf ear. And then something miraculous happened: My little girl was born. Now I am so beyond sensitive to the world and it’s issues and I CRY. ABOUT. EV-ER-Y-THING. I just can’t turn a blind eye anymore and it all kills me inside. I swear, I’m a depressed, swirling tornado of sad feels…all because of one amazing little human.

Live? In a world of fangs and lonely?
Or die. In a cage of smoke and needles.

So when I picked up this book, this book that would have just been so epic before Aubrey girl…I didn’t expect how much the graphic content would disturb me. Now, it didn’t effect my rating-you know, hearing about the concentration camps…because, honestly, it made me care, and isn’t that the point? But, I guess what I’m saying is that this book hit me hard in the gut…and I wasn’t expecting it.

Not alone. It was a cruel irony that this was the message she had been chosen to deliver. She, the loneliest of all. The girl without a people. Without a face. The girl who was no one. Who could be everyone.

This book may have been fiction, but it was so much stronger than that. And I by no means am glorifying this heinous event-in fact, it’s quite the contrary. It made me so much madder, because, frankly, it’s so easy to learn about the past and then choose to forget about it. It caused me to remember all I have learned and I understand the weight so much more now that I’m older and am choosing to process this.

Adele didn’t beg. Her eyes were ice and slit. She stared past the gun, straight at Yael. “Who are you?”
Not What do you want? or What are you doing here?
Who are you? Who? Who? Who?
Why, of all questions, this one?

But onto the story-

Yael’s mission is to assassinate Hitler. It’s her job to join the Axis Tour and win so she can attend the Victor’s Ball where she will follow through with her mission to end his reign. In this altered history, Hitler won and what we see is his glorified horrible idea of what is perfect and what happens to those he deems unworthy. Yael is a part of the resistance, she’s a survivor of one of his concentration camps and vows to end his life to save countless others-to avenge those she loved and lost before, to honor their memories.

Yael swallowed. But the tangle stayed.
Did it matter? One life. A drop in a vast, vast ocean of hundreds, thousands, millions.
Yes, pounded the hollow of her heart. Yes, cried her wolves.
It mattered. All of them mattered. All of the hundreds, thousands, millions. Vast, vast…
Would it ever end?

But during the race, she must defy the odds while battling with other hungry previous victors, all the while pretending to be someone who knows her past indiscretions, secrets, allies…and love interests.

She thought she was ready for this mission. Ready for anything.
But not this. Not relationships.
This wasn’t something she could fake.

I saw from some of my friends they weren’t huge fans of Luka, but I’m inclined to disagree. I found him to be some of my favorite moments of the story-especially near the end. His hurt is palpable, his desperation to win Yael/Adele over-it broke my heart. But, more than that, their flirtations and banter were by far one of the most lighthearted things about this novel-I absolutely loved how they interacted with one another….even though Yael is falling head over heels for a guy who doesn’t even know she exists.

“Sometimes I miss this. You. Me. Secrets. Stars.” His words curled out with the smoke—wisps of burning air that actually looked pretty. “I thought I was invincible. Before you.”

Love, lies, betrayal, and loyalties…they are all tested in this race of all races. Yael is tangled in a web of lies, deceit, and power-hungry opponents-but who can she trust among them and who will help her reach her ultimate goal? She went into the race knowing these men were monsters…but is there more to them than meets the eye? And though she thinks herself to be a monster, can she defy her internal struggles and break free of the restraints and heartbreak her whole life has been constructed around? Can she avenge all her loved ones?

This story is a good one, but being as tired as I am I can’t read it all together, so I had to read it in bits and pieces, so I really can’t say if this should have been five stars [instead of my 4] or less. I’m going with my gut and saying something was missing for this to have been perfect, but it was extremely entertaining and continually broke my heart. So that counts for something.