Wolf by Wolf has gotten A LOT of attention in the blogosphere. I bought a copy for my cousin as a Christmas present… then realised it sounded amazing and that I wanted to read it for myself. I loved it. It was beautifully written, well realised and generally made me happy.
Once upon a different time, there was a girl who lived in a kingdom of death. Wolves howled up her arm. A whole pack of them-made of tattoo ink and pain, memory and loss. It was the only thing about her that ever stayed the same.Her story begins on a train.
Germania, 1956. Over ten years since the Nazis won the war. 18-year-old Yael is part of the resistance, and she has just one mission: to kill Hitler.
But first she’s got to get close enough to him to do it.
Experimented on during her time at Auschwitz, Yael has the unique ability to change her appearance at will. The only part of her which always remains are the five tattooed wolves on her arm; one for each of the people she’s lost. Using her abilities, she must transform into Adele Wolfe, Germany’s most famous female rider and winner of the legendary Axis Tour; an epic long distance motorcycle race from Berlin to Tokyo, where only the strongest (and wiliest) riders survive. If she can win this, she will be able to get close enough to kill the Fuhrer and change history forever.
But with other riders sabotaging her chances at every turn, Yael’s mission won’t be easy. . .
This book was a delight. It was a painful and sometimes harsh delight, but a delight nonetheless. The marvellous plot, fascinating characters and themes, and to-die-for writing makes it really worthwhile.
Wolf by Wolf doesn’t exactly fit into a category. It’s sort of historical, has fantasy elements, dystopia parts, and plenty of action and adventure. I actually liked this though, because it was so well done. The plot keeps you interested. It does the typical thing where whenever things lag there’s a death, adventure or injury. Still, with the changing backgrounds and wide variety of happenings, along with strong themes and character development, it never felt repetitive. I don’t often read action books, but this one had such a great premise, and was so well visualised–what if Hitler won WWII?– but the dash of shapeshifting and family and identity was awesome. It was a tad predictable…at least right up until the end. The ending did sort of annoy me because it twisted everything on it’s head, but I’ll read the sequel anyway. I did struggle with the wolves metaphor but maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.
There are a lot of interesting characters in Wolfe by Wolfe (haha). It’s firmly told from Yaels POV, but Adele, Luka, Felix, and to a lesser degree Kasuto make an appearance along with the wolves. I really liked Yael as a character. It took me a little while to get used to her, and I did struggle with the violence, but her reaction to it made it okay. The whole dynamic between the characters was fabulous, especially with Luka and Felix. I love tight situations like that. Yaels growth through the book, partially through flashbacks, but also with the relationships with the two boys and development of a greater compassion and acceptance were awesome, and I’m excited to see how it develops in the next book. The themes of identity, violence, friendship and trust were really well incorporated . The central ideas were shown through the writing and the characters actions, and made me think about justice quite a lot– would I kill Hitler? Does he deserve it? What about all the other Nazis? How can a human cast judgement on another? With the shapeshifting and secrets, identity was central, and I loved how it came in the final scene. As for trust, her lack of it and presence of it really affect Yael, which was awesome. Violence is necessary to the plot, but it’s shown with great compassion. And Yael has friends–or does she? What does friendship mean? All of these ideas come up which I loved.
And then there is the writing. It’s freaking gorgeous. It’s a delight to read. It never obfuscates, but conveys things gorgeously (did I say that already). It can take a few reads of a sentence to perfectly comprehend it… but slow reading is good for me (probably) for example, this
“You have nothing left to prove. Everything to lose. Those words were for Adele. The normal racer. For Yael it was squared:everything, everything“
The flashbacks, telling the story of the wolves Yael lives by worked really well in terms of pacing, and I quite liked the -DASHED, BOLD- thoughts or orders of Yaels, which show how she has to be in control all the time. And then there’s this description of a kiss.
“ A boys lips on hers. Moving and melding. Soft and strength, velvet and iron. Opposite elements that tugged and tore Yael from the inside. Feelings bloomed, hot and warm. Deep and dark“
Doesn’t that tell you so much about Yael? All the writing is GORGEOUS GORGEOUS GORGEOUS though, and it tells a good story.
Amazing writing, plot, characters, deep exploration of themes plus much more. Sure there were a few things I blinked at, but mostly I say READ WOLF BY WOLF.
So have you read Wolf by Wolf? Do it now? Tell me about an awesome historical reimagining in the comments!