Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin is a young adult alternative history novel set in a world in which the Nazis won the Second World War. We follow our protagonist, Yael, who is a death camp survivor, and her mission to kill Hitler. This mission hangs on the fact that Yael’s experiences in the death camp gave her the ability to change her appearance to look like any other woman. She must impersonate famous motor cyclist Adele Wolfe, the only person in recent times who has been able to get close to the Führer. To achieve this goal she must first compete in a trans continental bike race from Germania (Berlin) to Tokyo while not revealing her secret to Adele’s brother and former flame Luka Löwe.
I have to say this book really got under my skin. I was completely invested in Yael’s story and rooting for her. I lay awake at night thinking of her story
What I liked
The protagonist. I loved that Yael is a blend of kick ass heroine and vulnerability. Graudin did an excellent job of making the mission personal to Yael through the use of flashbacks and the imagery of the wolf tattoos. Her relationships with both Felix and Luka were well written and added great extra tension to the story. Yael’s childhood hardships and her struggles to come to terms with her past made her a wonderfully engaging heroine.
The audio narration. After hearing the Audible sample, I immediately chose to experience this in audiobook format. Ms Lewis had me when she pronounced “Adele” correctly in the German way (Ah-day-luh.) The correct pronunciation of the German words really added to the story for me. Ms Lewis was also able to bring across the different voices and personalities excellently. She broke my heart as well when portraying young Yael in the death camp calling for her mama. This is definitely one to listen to.
The writing style. Ms Graudin has a writing style which is both poetic and immediate. I particularly enjoyed the animal imagery throughout the book with Yael’s being likened to a she wolf and Luka Löwe’s being compared to a lion. The way in which the wolf tattoos were symbolic of Yael’s past – and motivation for her mission – and her struggle to turn her past into a strength was very well written.
The pacing. In general, the pacing was excellent. The tension of the cross continental race kept the plot moving along and the flashbacks were integrated at appropriate times. However for me personally, the interruption of the race-flashback-race flow at a certain point in Russia didn’t work so well – I kept wanting them to just get back on with the race.
What I didn’t like
Other than the minor pacing issue, there was nothing I didn’t like about the book. I will definitely be checking out the sequel when it become available.
I gave Wolf by Wolf a well deserved five stars out of five.