Wolf By Wolf // Where I Learn You Miss Out When You Avoid Books Involving The World Wars

05 February 2016

Published: 5th November 2015
Source: Own (Illumicrate)
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Alternate History, Science Fiction
My Rating:

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. . .
I am going to begin by saying I am so glad this book came in the first Illumicrate box because I would never have bought it of my own volition. I admit, I’d heard about this book and was mildly intrigued, but only in that it sounded interesting, not so interested that I planned to buy. There is one simple reason for that unwillingness to invest and that is because I became jaded by the British history curriculum. I am a history graduate, so I have spent a lot of time studying the past, but I almost became jaded by the World Wars. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to study them, but I’ve done so about three times in the space of a few years and I got fed up with them. As such, I have avoided reading books set during the World Wars for a few years now. I’m glad I broke my aversion with this book, it was a prime example of what I’ve been missing.

It’s Weird… But It Works

I loved this book. I admit the whole Germany winning the war thing reminded me of The Man In the High Castle, which I’ve not read but I’ve seen the adverts for Amazon Prime and so have a vague idea of what it’s about. The only other book I’ve read with a similar concept is a book by Stephen Fry where a guy travels back in time, killing Hitler, and changes history. I was concerned that I may end up feeling like this book was copying those concepts… but it didn’t. I think this was partially due to the various characters, and very much because of Yael. The character of Yael was heartbreaking due to her experience in the death camps of Nazi Germany (not a cheery thing to read about) but also because of the experiments that were done to her that caused her to become a skin shifter also led to her loss of identity.

This Book Is More Than It Appears

This book was about the action adventure of pretending to be someone else trying to win a cross-country motorcycle race and trying to succeed in assassinating Hitler. It was great, but that most definitely not what this book was about either. The action was just an added bonus, as I said, it was about finding out who you are.

Yael’s appearance changed with time, and she can literally change her appearance to look like anyone (as long as they’re female) and that obviously impacts on her ability to remember what used to look like. This is all about her figuring out who she is, what lengths she’ll go to and deciding if the greater good is enough of a cause. It is interesting to read about her struggle, about how she has taken a new identity and is growing attached to those close to Adele Wolfe whilst being aware she shouldn’t be. It’s certainly a new dilemma to read about, much better than the usual dystopian ‘getting close to the enemy’ trope as she was quite literally pretending to be a member of the Aryan race, not infiltrating in the same way.

Overall, I Thought It Was Awesome

Look, I haven’t really covered all the reasons why I loved this book, have I? It’s hard because I don’t want to reveal too much and I don’t know how much is too much for you all. I can only tell you I struggled to stop reading this book, I was intrigued and that seriously attached by the character of Yael, I couldn’t figure out where the story was going to go. Most importantly, I wanted to know how she got to where she was and became who she was. I cannot believe where the book left off, either. Talk about a cliffhanger! All good books have a decent cliffhanger otherwise they wouldn’t be worth reading and you wouldn’t be left impatiently waiting for the next book in the series.

Am I the only one who was wary about reading books set during either of the World Wars? And what are your favourite books set during those periods? I always appreciate a good recommendation.
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