“‘The wolves of war are gathering,’ she recited the first half of the pass code. ‘They sing the song of rotten bones,’ the voice behind the door answered.”
So, I’m going to be completely honest right off the bat. A policy I try to live by. I am a HUGE fan of Ryan Graudin. Pretty much anything you put in front of me to read with her name on it I am going to love. I have met her three times and she remembers me! What author who sees thousands of faces a year remembers a random face? She is brilliant, adorable with green hair, down to earth, and really funny. The thing is though, I do not think my review of her books are bias. Graudin has earned my fandom. Wolf by Wolf makes book three that I have finished by Graudin and every book gets better and better. Her first book, All That Glows, was a completely different book than her others but I still enjoyed every page. EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE. EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. Her stories capture me. She weaves words together like magic making her stories breathtaking. I do not know how she does it, but it sucks me in and I cannot get enough of her books. I feel like a creepy fangirl. Every time I meet her I have to keep my creeper fangirl firmly shut inside because I am so afraid I will freak her out and she won’t ever talk to me again. HA-HA-HA………but really, it is a real fear of mine.
Enough about my weird appreciation for Ryan Graudin. Let us talk about the book, Wolf By Wolf.
“She already lost her face. She would not let the rest of herself (however dark, however broken) slip away. So she traced and she named. She hurt and she raged. She remembered.”
Her story begins on a train.
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.
Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele’s twin brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.
But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?
My Thoughts: *may contain spoilers*
“All simmer, steam, and sabotage. So many good ingredients gone to waste.”
Oh my goodness. I felt as though I could finally breathe after this book. Throughout this whole book I was holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop. And it did. In the last few chapters! Talk about a dang cliff hanger! Good thing I have Book two, Blood for Blood!
Readers follow young Yael who has gone through some shish. I do not wish to be her, but I found myself connecting to her in every chapter. Her thoughts are thoughts I have thought to myself before. Her emotions, her actions, they are all things I have done before and sometimes still think or do. Yael is an incredibly lonely little girl who finds a make shift family in the most unlikely place. She makes connections to people who end up gone. The most remarkable thing is that Yael over comes every obstacle that is set in front of her. Even the Axis Tour. The one thing that could cause Yael to break and cave in on herself. She even had to stop herself from falling in love, you know how hard that is? Imagine how emotionally and mentally taxing that has to be. I cannot even keep myself from eating chocolate on a good day, let alone try and stop a natural chemical reaction in my brain! Impossible. Go Yael!
“No number of bullet points and biography facts could pin the soul behind the eyes.”
I thought this synopsis sounded really awesome. What would a world be like if Germany did win the war? How scary of a head space is that to be in, in order to write not one, but two books about it? Graudin mentioned at one of her signings that she was happy to be done with the Wolf By Wolf duology because living in a Axis power world where Hitler was the dominating force was not a bright place to be. Graudin did such a wonderful job in this book but after having read this book I can see what she means. Yael goes through some traumatizing moments in the book at the hands of the Nazi’s and it is not a head space I would want to live in either.
Even though this book has its dark moments, Graudin does a really good job at balancing those dark moments with light, happy moments. The book is fast paced and even though Graudin takes the reader from present to past and back the story is not confusing. In fact it is the exact opposite. The story feels very natural and organic the way it is written. Seriously, Ryan Graudin has a wicked way with words. Every line, every book, is spectacular.
“It was a shattered mirror. Something she had to piece together, over and over again. Memory by memory. Loss by loss. Wolf by wolf.”
Even though this book is set in a grim world the message Graudin portrays is such a powerful one. That no matter what your life is like, whether you have no family, no home, no friends, there is always a way to make your life better if you set a mission and accomplish it. Overcoming the darkness is the hardest part, but once you do, the light will shine and everything will get better. Just hang on. I wish I had this book in high school.
Wolf By Wolf is a spell book full of magic that is guaranteed to take you on a ride you’re surely not to forget anytime soon.
“Remember and be rended. Remember and be rendered.”
An absolute brilliant story and I cannot wait to continue the adventure in Blood For Blood.
I gave this book 4/5 stars.
Thanks for reading! I hope this review helps you decide to pick up this book. I promise you will not be disappointed and I would like to fangirl about this book too if you have already read it!
Live Long and Prosper,