Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

wolf-by-wolfLittle, Brown and Co, 2015

1944.  Yael remembers her childhood….the needles poking into her thin frame, the straw in the mattress she shared with her mother in the barracks, the beatings, the deaths.  And she is reminded everyday by the tattoo on her arm put there by the Nazis.

1956.  Her tattoo is now covered by five wolves. and although Yael no longer sees it, the wolves remind her of those she loved who died.  She is no longer a young child, but a young woman and part of the resistance movement.  Twelve years after the horror of the concentration camp and the experimentation she went through with the Angel of Death doctor, life is still dangerous.

Hitler is still in power, and the face of Europe has changed. There are now two world powers:  the Third Reich, and Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, ruled by Hirohito in Japan. The Soviet Union and Italy have fallen.  Hitler now uses areas in Europe and Africa as Lebensraum, a place for Aryan people to live, thrive and grow.

Yael is an integral part of the plan they have to get rid of Hitler once and for all.  Yael is special because she has unique abilities, ones she received from the experimentation done to her in the camps.  She can now change shapes, becoming someone totally different without anyone knowing who she truly is.  Even she is wonders who are what her true self is….

But that doesn’t matter as much as getting close to Hitler.  And there is only one event where this could possibly happen – The Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.  Every year, the Axis Tour happens, a cross country grueling motorcycle race.  Prague. Rome. Cairo. Baghdad. New Delhi. Dhaka. Hanoi. Shanghai. Tokyo.  Not all riders will see it to the end and only the victor will be allowed at the ball.

Yael has stolen the identity of Germany’s finest racer, a girl named Adele.  That was the easy part.  The difficult part is surviving the race and wondering who is telling the truth and who isn’t.  Can she trust Adele’s brother, who says he’s there to protect her?  What about Luka, her old rival and lover, who says one thing that could mean another?  Most importantly, will Operation Valkyrie work and put an end to Hitler’s reign?

How did this book slip through my hands?  I couldn’t read this fast enough.  An alternate history dystopian book, this had all the elements to keep readers intrigued from the characters and their endgames to the fallout of Europe after WWII.  Descriptive in narrative, the reader will be pulled straight into the espionage as well as the life or death race that will leave them gasping at the end.  Sequel published this year (and I can’t WAIT to read it!)  If you have readers wanting great dystopia in an alt history, give them this!  Highly recommended 7-12th grades.

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