Great once it gets into fifth gear. 4/5 stars.
Thank you to Hachette Children’s Books, Orion Children’s Books and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book in return for an honest review.
The blurb: 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…
Wolf by Wolf is set in a twentieth century in which the Nazis won World War II and our heroine is on a mission to kill Hitler. As set-ups go, they don’t get much better than that and I’m delighted to report that once Wolf by Wolf eventually gripped me, it was a terrific read.
I say “eventually”, because it was the last third of this book which earned it its fourth star. Up until then I was interested, but not enthralled. This is partly because there’s a lot of build-up and back story to cover, but also because the main character – Yael – is emotionally detached and distant. This is completely understandable given her history, after all, it would be unusual to find a concentration camp and torture survivor who was quick to trust. However it does mean it takes a little longer to identify with her and her mission.
In fact, the book is pleasingly plot-driven. Usually I find character the most important thing in a story, but not in the case of Wolf by Wolf. The motorcycle race gives the tale a strong linear backbone off which to hang various flashbacks and character development. It’s a credit to the writing that although the story jumps about it time, we’re never confused as to where we are or what’s going on. Also, it gives me high hopes for the sequel because you know that nothing that happens is random and the author is setting things up nicely for the future.
Overall: Wolf by Wolf is a very promising first installment of this story. I look forward to reading the sequel later this year!