WOLF BY WOLF by Ryan Graudin [Review]



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?

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I’ve heard nothing but great things about Wolf by Wolf. But as we all know, sometimes books can be over-hyped. Though with that amazing synopsis above, I had a strong feeling I was going to love this book. And I did. I do.

Everything from the writing style to the method of storytelling to the detailed world-building and elements of science-fiction thrown in–there’s just SO much to love. I always love a good twist on history, and Wolf by Wolf delivered that in full.

I mean, a skinshifter who has escaped a death camp must impersonate last year’s victor of a motorcycle tournament to try to kill Hitler. THAT is not only cool, but powerful. And that’s one of the best words I can use to describe this novel: powerful.

Yael had to live through and experience horrible conditions throughout her life, including witnessing the deaths of many. This is a powerful thing that I often feel is overlooked in novels, but Graudin handled it with a seriousness that I admired. She gave Yael these ghosts who followed her, these doubts that clouded her mind. Qualities that I found realistic and admirable for what Yael had been through.

But before I keep dragging things on, let me break down the beauty and thrill of this book.



Graudin has such a luscious writing style that brings everyone and everything to life. The kind of writing style where I could easily highlight every single sentence and frame it in my room.

Hope. A strange word. In her past, it had been a light, wispy thing. Crushed as easily as a finger under a guard’s boot. But now … now hope weighed so much, as if the Colosseum itself has collapsed on top of her. Mortar and suffering. Brick and time. Pouring into Yael’s chest cavity. The place that was supposed to hold her heart.

How beautiful is that? The answer is: SO BEAUTIFUL. This writing made me feel ashamed for calling myself a writer. Graudin truly knows how to thread words together to make a gorgeous sentence that you’ll want to read again and again.

“The ghosts will stay. Just like your numbers. Just like my scars. Just like our pain.” Vlad pulled his hand away. “But you don’t have to be afraid of them.”

It was words like these that reminded me of my own WIP, how I want to express that it’s okay to have ghosts and scars and bruises. That we can heal and live alongside of them. To not let them control us. Graudin delivered those meanings in a beautiful way.

This is how empires crumble. This is how tyrants fall.

Like everyone else.




The plot was brilliant. This twist on World War II where the Axis wins presents an interesting plot in itself. Then we have the addition of a motorcycle race from Germania(?) to Tokyo. Between these two elements, we have a deep political intrigue and some thrilling action.

And oh my was the action THRILLING. Graudin did a spectacular job of keeping a solid pace with the story, alternating between Yael’s past and the present, where she plots and soon starts the race. Each racing scene was told with such a vividness that grabbed my attention like a film.

The plot is full of action and suspense and political intrigue with the slightest hint of romance–all things that blended well to create a superb novel. This plot–this book–will keep you on the edge of your seat, flipping page after page.



Oh did I love these little monsters. Each character had their own distinct characteristics, qualities that weren’t all that great. They were devious and dangerous things who were willing to do what it would take to win. (Except Felix [for the most part] because he was a little angel.)

If you know me well, you know I adore flawed characters. Because to me, an imperfect characters rings out more like a real person. Reading and writing about characters who have doubts and wonders, who think or act selfishly–it’s what I love. I love to get an insight on the human brain, how each character interacts with one another and what they’ll do in reaction.

I don’t want special snowflakes or perfect little princesses. No, give me those characters with bloody hands and ghosts on their tails and ink on their skin. Those are my favorites, and Wolf by Wolf is full of them.


RATING: ★★★★✩

If you haven’t already read Wolf by Wolf, I highly, HIGHLY recommend you pick it up. This is a thrilling YA historical fiction with hints of science fiction that are reminiscent to the X-Men. I mean, need I say more?




Guys this is only the third book I read this month, WHICH IS VERY DISAPPOINTING. But you know, it happens (when you’re editing and ripping out your hair).

How many books have you all read this month? And have any of you read Wolf by Wolf? If so, what did you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.

And one last thing, I signed up for NaNoWrimo and I am ALL the excitement. The first year I learned about NaNo, I just started writing, so it was a no-go for me. The year after, I was in the midst of rewriting my first novel for the millionth time. But now, I’m editing my second novel and have been plotting my next project for a little over a year now. Whether or not I finish edits by the end of this month (and I likely won’t), I figured it’s time for me to finally start this project.

You can find and read about my novel here. I usually don’t share anything about my novels unless I’m reaching out to beta-readers or (obviously) agents, but I figured it’s time to step out of my comfort zone and be open. I’m always scared of plagiarism and the like, but no more living in fear for me. I want to be open about my projects from now on (for the most part).

Keep your eyes out for another Q&A, where I will be joining the Beautiful Books 2016 – Writer Link-Up. I can’t wait to tell you all more about my novel and to begin the new month with this project I’ve been dying to write.




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