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.
I was invited to a blogger tea earlier this year to meet Ryan Graudin and hear all about her upcoming book. I left feeling super excited to read it, and so I should have – Wolf By Wolf is now one of my favourite books of the year.
Wolf By Wolf is set in 1956, Germany – or, Germania, Capital of the Third Reich. It has been 10 years since the Third Reich and Imperial Japan won the Second World War. As a young child, Yael was experimented on in Auschwitz and she developed the incredible ability to transform her appearance. As a teenager, she is a member of a determined rebel group. Yael is on a mission: to join the famous Axis Tour, a treacherous motorcycle race across the world, from Berlin to Tokyo – with one aim. She must win the race, dance with Hitler at the Victors’ ball – and kill him.
Wolf By Wolf is a clever and impressive combination of alternate history and fantasy. Ryan Graudin clearly did a lot of research, yet it never feels like a history lesson – only one girl’s thrilling attempt to seek revenge on those who destroyed her life. Yael is a brave and intelligent heroine, and one I was supporting all the way. She has five tattooed wolves, each one a memory of someone she has lost. To enter the race, Yael alters her appearance to mimic blonde-haired, blue-eyed Adele Wolfe, the only previous female Victor. I loved discovering Yael’s past and the story behind each of the wolves. Wolf By Wolf seamlessly moves between the Yael’s heartbreaking backstory as a frightened young girl to her exhilarating and dangerous present as she pretends to be Germany’s most famous female rider.
As the race progressed, I was on edge to discover whether Yael would complete her mission, especially as she began to develop relationships with her fellow riders, and make enemies of some. I sat in a tube station and refused to leave until I reached the end because I couldn’t bear to put it down. Wolf By Wolf throws us into the dusty path of a stunning, fast-paced and well-written journey. All I wanted to do upon finishing was tell other people about it. Even if you’re not usually into contemporary historical fiction or fantasy, this will be one book that a lot of people will be talking about this autumn, so don’t miss out. I’ll definitely be picking up her first book, The Walled City, soon!
Published: 20th October 2015 (US) 5th November 2015 (UK)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book for Young Readers (US) Indigo (UK)
Source: Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!