by Ryan Graudin
To be published on October 20, 2015
by Little, Brown BFYR
Source: ARC giveaway from the publisher at Book Expo America
Synopsis from Goodreads: The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, 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. Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has 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 victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get 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 take: What a surprise! I was handed Wolf by Wolf as I browsed around BEA, and I tucked it into my tote bag with that fake smile I use at a cocktail party when someone hands me an hors d'oeuvre with an anchovy on it. I mean, the cover (a wolf and a motorcycle and camo) all screamed Not For Me.
But I'm also a firm believer in stepping out of my book comfort zone, so I gave this a try. And I literally did not set it down until I finished it. It's not completely a Jen book -- it's fairly plot driven, with its whole across-the-globe-motorcycle-race-where-competitors-try-to-sabotage-one-another set-up. But it's the kind of plot-driven book that I like, one that makes me really care about the main character and her story goal.
Wolf by Wolf is an interesting mash-up: a little bit alt-history (what if Hitler had prevailed in World War II?) and a little bit paranormal (main character Yael can shape shift after being a victim of Nazi medical experiments) and a lot of revenge story (in flashbacks, the book shows some of the atrocities that Yael was subjected to and the people she lost along the way.) The book plays into the whole YA twin/doppleganger trope that I've discussed on the blog in a big way. Yael is impersonating Adele, who is herself a twin -- fraternal, thankfully, or my head would have exploded... There was also a touch of romance -- just a little bit, because, you know, a breakneck motorcycle race doesn't leave much time for that. When I got to the end, I was a little perturbed at the abruptness of it -- I didn't realize this was the first part of a duology. It seems that both the romance and Yael's quest will continue in the second and final installment.
So here's my takeaway: if you look at this book and are dying to read it, you should. But if you look at it and think "eh," you should also give it a try. Then come back and tell me what you think!