“These were the names she whispered in the dark.
These were the pieces she brought back into place.
These were the wolves she rode to war.”
I’ve read a lot of books set in and around WW2 but this one draws you by asking one big question- What if the Allies lost? I suppose this is the YA version of The Man in the High Castle but I kept falling asleep during the first season on Amazon (most of my TV watching is late at night) so I haven’t bothered to pick up the book it’s based on.
Wolf by Wolf is set in 1956 in a world where America never got involved in WW2 and the Third Reich was victorious. Hitler is still in power and control of Europe, Asia and Africa is divided between Germany and Japan, although tensions are high. The Axis Tour is a propaganda motorcycle race for young Aryans and Japanese to show their strength and endurance while honoring the Great Victory ten years prior; it is also Yael’s one chance at assassinating Hitler.
Yael was brought to a death camp by train with her mother when she was 6 but was ‘saved’ by the camp’s doctor who selected her for a secret experiment. Yael’s past is parceled out to the reader in a series of flashbacks that include months of painful melanin injections to alter Yael’s appearance, she became less Jewish looking and more Aryan but there was another side effect- Yael is now able to change her appearance at will.
Yael had many faces. Many names. Many sets of papers. Because the chemicals the Angel of Death had crammed into Yael’s veins had changed her.
Years later Yael is a member of the Resistance, she was found by a member shortly after her escape and trained. Her mission is to kidnap Adele Wolfe, last year’s victor of the Axis Tour, and assume her identity throughout the race. The plan is simple- win the tour as Adele, go to the Victor’s Ball, and kill Hitler- but obviously it is not that easy. Adele’s twin brother, Felix, joins the tour with hopes to persuade his sister to leave the race. Another complication to Yael’s cover is Luka, a previous victor that Adele beat the year before, who has more of a history with Adele than the Resistance’s reconnaissance uncovered.
There is some repetition, the length of the tour leaves thousands of miles and hundreds of pages to fill, but overall the writing is engaging and the story gripping. Graudin excellently weaves the history we know into an unforgettable dystopian world. The depth of this world and the well written characters, along with a cliffhanger ending, has me already itching to read the sequel.