Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Wolf by Wolf

Wolf by Wolf
by Ryan Graudin

Genre:  Young Adult/Fantasy
Published:  10/20/15 by Little Brown
Pages:  295
Format: ebook

My rating:
5 out of 5 stars 

I loved this book!  I wish I would have read it last year, because it would definitely have made my Best of 2015 list.  I have been in a major book rut for the last few months trying to find a good book that will inspire me to keep reading.  This book was just what I needed!  Easy to read and interesting, I quickly devoured the book in just a couple sittings.

This book imagines what the world would look like if Hitler had not been killed.  What if the Allies had not won World War II?  What if Hitler and Japan's Emperor Hirohito continued their quest for world dominance?  What if the Holocaust continued for 10 more years with no end in sight?  This alternative history novel begins with this premise and adds a slight touch of fantasy to create an intriguing story about survival, sorrow, resilience and vengeance. 

The main character is Yael.  As the result of an experiment in a Nazi concentration camp, Yael is a skinshifter, with the ability to change her appearance to look like anyone else.  With this unique gift (curse?), Yael imitates the famous Adele Wolfe, a Victor in the Axis tour, a motorcycle race across the world sponsored by Hitler and Hirohito.  Yael'sgoal for the upcoming Axis tour is simple:  impersonate Adele, win the race, gain an audience with Hitler and kill him.

At first I wasn't sure if I liked the "skinshifting" part of this story.  Every other part of the story is set in reality and could possibly have happened.  The "skinshifting" adds a fantasical element which makes the story unrealistic.  But it also makes the story interesting!  With Hitler's extreme emphasis on race and appearance, what if it was possible for a Jew to completely change her appearance and look like a perfect Aryan girl?  What possibilities and difficulties would this ability present?  It's a fascinating look at identity and how appearances play a role in who we are and what we do.

When Wolf by Wolf was over, I was genuinely sad.  Of course, I was eager to read what would happen next.  But I was also sad to have to stop reading a book that I enjoyed so much.  While I am waiting for the sequel, the next book on my reading list is going to be Ryan Graudin's previous novel, "The Walled City."

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