Rating: 5/5 stars
Over ten years since the Nazis won the war, 18 yr old Yael has one mission: to kill Hitler – a captivating second novel from Walled City author, Ryan Graudin.
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.
Germania, 1956. Over ten years since the Nazis won the war. 18-year-old Yael is part of the resistance, and she has just one mission: to kill Hitler.
But first she’s got to get close enough to him to do it.
Experimented on during her time at Auschwitz, Yael has the unique ability to change her appearance at will. The only part of her which always remains are the five tattooed wolves on her arm; one for each of the people she’s lost. Using her abilities, she must transform into Adele Wolfe, Germany’s most famous female rider and winner of the legendary Axis Tour; an epic long distance motorcycle race from Berlin to Tokyo, where only the strongest (and wiliest) riders survive. If she can win this, she will be able to get close enough to kill the Fuhrer and change history forever.
But with other riders sabotaging her chances at every turn, Yael’s mission won’t be easy. . .
“The wolves of war are gathering. They sing a song of rotten bones.”
Utterly thought consuming, this novel is perhaps my favourite WW2-inspired novel I have read in a long time – perhaps ever – up there with critically acclaimed novels like The Book Thief, and The Nightingale.
It’s the uniqueness of this novel that I found especially striking: never before have I even considered a motorcycle race as an interesting premise for a novel, yet here I am, reviewing a 5-star book about such a thing.
And there’s the truth…I wasn’t actually expecting much from this novel. But, even reading the synopsis now, I am so confused as to why I thought I could possibly not enjoy it. Throughout, it was fast paced, and both exciting and intriguing; I never wanted to put it down! Actually, on my recent trip to Manhattan, NYC, I was so eager to find out what happened next, I was reading this book on the subway, at restaurants, in Macy’s, and even – once – whilst walking, which I soon discovered was not for me. (Clumsy!)
My message is that this book is absolutely thrilling, and I recommend it to everyone who enjoys historical fiction. The plot is unapologetically gripping, and stomach-twistingly-intense throughout; I raced through this novel, eager to learn the fates of Graudin’s characters. As well as this, the writing was beautifully poetic, something I really look for in novels.
In my opinion, it takes a lot to write a book with a great plot and cast of characters, but it takes so much more for your writing in and of itself to be considered beautiful.
And Ryan Graudin just has it.
Not only was the pace and plot impeccable, but the characters were absolutely incomparable to any others I have read.
Yael, our protagonist, is a beautifully strong lead, who has a meaningful and resonating message to share with her audience. I loved how she was evidently damaged – both inside and out – but only ever let that fuel her revenge plot, and only ever allowed it to, ultimately, strengthen her. Likewise, her growth throughout the book was stunning to read about, and such a privilege to experience. Similarly, as Yael grew, her relationships with other characters grew, which was equally enjoyable and poignant to read about.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, its thrilling nature along with its cast of indisputably strong and unwavering characters gripping my heart, and refusing to let go, even after the end.
Yael, the protagonist of Wolf by Wolf, is an atypical heroine with questionable morals, and so I am entering this novel for the number 38 spot on the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge: A book about an anti hero. Yay!
(Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)
She was going to cross the world and change it. Or die trying.
Who are you? (On the inside?)
The answer to this question was something Yael had to fight for. Her self-reflection was no reflection at all. It was a shattered mirror. Something she had to piece together, over and over again. Memory by memory. Loss by loss. Wolf by wolf.
So she traced and she named. She hurt and she raged. She remembered.
“Volchitsa,” she whispered Yael’s nickname – she-wolf in Russian, a stubborn, fierce creature for a stubborn, fierce girl.
But people were more than crooked type and swastika-stamped documents. No number of bullet points and biography facts could pin the soul behind the eyes.
Remember and be rended. (You must be broken to be fixed.)
As soon as this girl stared back at him (and kept staring, through the fear and the pain and the wails of those so much older), Geyer knew she was something he could melt down. Something that might survive the forging.
He was right.
If you enjoyed _____, you’ll love Wolf by Wolf!