Author: Ryan Graudin

Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

Blood for Blood by Ryan GraudinBlood for Blood by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #2
Also in this series: Iron to Iron
Format: ARC
Pages: 496 pages
Genres: Alternate History
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Hachette was kind enough to send me an Advance Reader Copy of Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin, the sequel to Wolf by Wolf.  Thank you so much, guys!  I was super excited to receive it as it was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016 and it did not disappoint in the least.  Blood for Blood is the second book in an alternate history young adult series set in a world in which the Hitler and the Nazis won World War II.  Our protagonist is a young Jewish death camp survivor with the ability to shape shift.  The series consists of the two main novels, Wolf by Wolf and Blood for Blood as well as the prequel novella Iron to Iron.

The story starts immediately after the cliffhanger ending of Wolf by Wolf and expands the points of view to three.  It continues the quest Yael was assigned in Wolf by Wolf and deals with the fallout of the events and discoveries of the book.  

What I liked

The world.  Once again I was completely drawn into the alternate history that Graudin has created.  The world felt so real and fleshed out I could easily imagine our characters trying to navigate it.  Once again, I found myself hearing the story in the voice of Christa Lewis, the narrator of Wolf by Wolf.  I certainly intend to purchase the audiobook as soon as it is available in November.  What was also nicely done was the way in which the world was impacted by the actions of our protagonists.  The world has changed by what they achieved.  I really hope we get to see more of it through short stories.

Character journeys.  I really loved the journeys that all of our main characters go on.  Each of our main three characters has a different journey and they were all beautifully developed.  Instead of the single flashbacks to Yael’s life as in Wolf by Wolf, we are shown specific moments in the past experienced in unique ways by each of our three point of view characters.  This serves to show where each of them is coming from, as well as to contrast their attitudes.  While I did prefer the Yael flashbacks from Wolf by Wolf, tied thematically as they were with the wolf tattoos, the flashbacks in Blood for Blood did serve their purpose to give some understanding of the characters’ motivations.  I very much disliked a certain character, but his actions were both logical and understandable.

Themes.  I studied German at university and one of the books we studied was Erzählte Zeit, a collection of short stories written by Germans immediately after World War II as they attempted to come to terms with the horror of the Holocaust.  These explored some fascinating themes of guilt and loss and I really enjoyed seeing similar themes explored in Blood for Blood.  

Identity.  Identity was another strong theme explored in the novel.  The characters are constantly asking themselves what it means to be a death camp survivor, or Jewish, or a Third Reich poster boy, or a loyal citizen of the Reich or son or brother.  They are constantly re-evaluating this as they progress through the narrative – beautifully done.  I’m assuming this is where the title comes from.

What I didn’t like

The only minor quibble I had was that I didn’t quite buy the logic of what they were trying to do.  I would have liked a bit more background into why they expected achieving their goal to have the effect it did.  Sorry, I can’t say too much more without being too spoilery.

Blood for Blood is a fantastic end to a great duology.  My only regret is that the series is now finished.  Can we have some more short stories please?!?   I gave Blood for Blood five stars out of five.

five-stars

Reading roundup – June 24th 2016

Good morning and welcome to another reading roundup.  And happy St Jean to my fellow Quebecers!

Reading roundup – June 24th 2016Iron to Iron by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #0.5
Also in this series: Blood for Blood
Format: eBook
Pages: 104 pages
Genres: Alternate History
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

This week I read the wonderful Iron to Iron, the prequel novella to Ryan Graudin’s Wolf by Wolf.  Like Wolf by Wolf, it is set in an alternate universe in which the Axis won World War II.  It tells the story of Luka Löwe and Adele Wolfe’s burgeoning romance during the 1955 Axis Tour, a relationship which causes much of the tension in Wolf by Wolf.  Within a couple of pages I was immediately back in the world created by Graudin and back following the Axis Tour.  I listened to Wolf by Wolf in audiobook and although this novella is an ebook only, I still heard it in my mind with Christa Lewis’ voice.  It’s not often that I have such a strong link with narration.  

For those of you who have not yet read Wolf by Wolf (and why not may I ask?) the Axis Tour is a motorcycle race between Berlin and Tokyo, with the winner receiving an Iron Cross and many accolades.  Iron to Iron is told from Luka’s perspective, and we learn more about him.  Both he and Adele are strongly motivated to win the Axis Tour, he to prove his worth to his father by winning a second Iron Cross, she to prove that women are equally as competent as men.  Of course, having read Wolf by Wolf we know the outcome of this race; Graudin does a wonderful job of keeping the tension high despite that knowledge and without the addition of the whole shapeshifter trying to kill Hitler plot of Wolf.

My only gripe about Iron to Iron – and it is very minor – is that fräulein is written with a lower case f.  In German all nouns are capitalised, so this really irritated me.  I gave Iron to Iron a well deserved five stars out of five.  Now when is Blood for Blood out?!?

This week I also started reading His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik.  So far I’m really enjoying it.

Game of Thrones thoughts after the cut

 

(more…)

five-stars

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – Review

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – ReviewWolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #1
Also in this series: Iron to Iron, Blood for Blood
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Christa Lewis
Length: 10 hrs and 31 mins
Genres: Alternate History, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

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.


 

five-stars
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