If you need an amazing, beautifully written, heart-wrenching (in the best of ways) read, WOLF BY WOLF is it. It was everything I imagined–and needed–in a historical fiction novel. And I can tell you, I (Sasha) clearly don’t read historical fiction ENOUGH! (Sarena loves it.)
I read this book for the WBW read-a-long hosted by the wonderful Mariam @ Flying Through Fiction. The group chatted about the book and I can firmly say that it was an enjoyable read for the bulk of us. If you’re interested in learning more about it, here’s the cover and 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?
Gorgeous cover and thrilling plot aside, the thing I enjoyed most about this book was the writing style. Seriously–Graudin writes beautifully. We’re taking a Specialized Prose (writing) class right now, and we noticed that Graudin uses a lot of the techniques we’ve been learning about (in regards to sentence structure). She really took the time to make sure every single word was necessary, and that definitely added to the overall enjoyment of the novel.
Here are some of my favourite lines from the novel that exhibit this prose:
“So she traced and she named. She hurt and she raged. She remembered.”
“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.”
“Gravel and pits. Slopes and bends. Shadow and chill. These were the mountain roads.”
“There would be no dressing up as a maid. No cyanide slipped into his crystal glass of mineral water. The Fuhrer’s death was to be a loud, screaming thing. A broadcast of blood over the Reichssender.”
Again, the prose is gorgeous. Literally, I’m drooling over Graudin’s writing–and if anything, it’s made me want to become a stronger writer, too.
Another thing I loved about this novel was the characters: Yael, of course, was my favourite, but I thought Luka’s mysteriousness definitely added to my overall enjoyment of the novel. Everything about this book was done so well–from the writing, to the descriptions and imagery, to the dialogue, or even Yael’s inner thoughts. This was definitely one of the most unique books I’ve read. Graudin was able to keep me hooked from page one, and I especially enjoyed how she interwove the past (through “then” chapters or sections) with the present (the “now” chapters). It was so interesting to learn about her past and what inspired her wolf tattoos. I just can’t get enough of Graudin’s writing! I’ve already picked up Graudin’s The Walled City, so I’m hoping to dive into it soon. 🙂
Sarena and I both loved this novel. We rated it a 5/5 stars.