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One of the Most Intriguing and Heart-Stoppingly Exciting YA Books We’ve Read in a Long Time: ‘Wolf by Wolf’

November 13, 2015

Wolf by Wolf coverWhen we saw that reviewers were comparing Ryan Graudin’s Wolf by Wolf to both Hunger Games and The Book Thief, we were intrigued!

And when we spotted the glowing endorsements from Graudin’s fellow authors including Amie Kaufman, we knew it was a must read! (‘Wolf by Wolf completely immerses the reader in a story they’ll never forget. Filled to the brim with tension and intrigue, nonstop action, and a vivid cast of characters, you’ll feel every bump in the road they ride. I simply couldn’t stop reading.’ – Amie Kaufman)

We weren’t disappointed: Wolf by Wolf is definitely one of the most exciting and intriguing YA books we’ve read in a long time.

Graudin’s writing style is powerful and very visual. The novel is packed with action and tension, features an amazingly strong central character, and is based on a fascinating premise: what if Germany had won World War II?

Set in an alternate Germany and Europe in 1956 – over ten years since the Nazis won the war – Wolf by Wolf is the story of a young woman on a dangerous mission: to kill Hitler.

18-year-old Yael is an escapee from Auschwitz, and now a resistance fighter. Experimented on during her time at Auschwitz, she 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. Those wolves represent the people she has loved and lost – people who sacrificed themselves for her.

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.

Yael quickly realises that the official ‘briefing’ she’s been given about Adele overlooks the girl’s complex emotional relationships and entanglements with other riders, including her brother. Can Yael pull off the deception? And with some of those other riders sabotaging her chances at every turn, can she possibly win the race?

‘Graudin perfectly captures the struggle between doing what you believe is right
and doing what you believe will help you win. The majority of the characters reflect this dichotomy
at some point or another and their choices are what colour their personalities and developments.
All of the characters, main and secondary, are so wonderfully nuanced that
it’s impossible not to want to know more about them.’ –

As the ride unfolds, a series of vivid flashbacks reveal more about Yael’s history and those five ‘wolves’ she is fighting for. At times these past episodes are dark and frightening, but they’re also deeply moving.

Ryan GraudinGraudin’s story is full of winning ingredients to enthral teen readers, from the vengeful heroine we can’t resist barracking for, to the thrilling accounts of riding motorbikes, evocative descriptions of locations along the trip, fierce and unforgiving competition and the romantic tension between Yael and one of the other riders.

‘Ryan Graudin opens one of the darkest chapters in history and spins a what if
into an incredible tale of survival, identity, and purpose.
This is the kind of book you can’t put down, and the kind that follows you long after you have.
It is, quite simply, a masterpiece.’ – Victoria Schwab, author of The Archived series

Wolf by Wolf is also loaded with meaty themes that will challenge teen readers and have them desperate to talk about the book and compare notes with friends – history, love, loss, courage, heroism, hope, race, identity, community, human monstrosity and vengeance.

Graudin is aware of the power of her themes and has thoroughly researched this book. As she says, ‘It’s my hope that Yael’s story will not only remind readers that all people are created equal but also challenge people to educate themselves on the history behind the fiction and to use this knowledge to examine our present world.

‘The world within [the book] could have been our own. For a time and in a place it was, and we should do our best not to forget that.’

(Read more about Graudin’s themes and research on the Better Reading site here.)

Wolf by Wolf is definitely a book we’ll press into the hands of the teens (14+) we know!

‘A howling, powerful must read for 2015. This incredible alternate World War II history is a heart-stopping,
world changing, truly unmissable second novel from The Walled City author, Ryan Graudin…
The plot hurtles along with fury. However this doesn’t detract from the
care and detail that goes into the setting, storytelling, and character building. 
Wolf By Wolf is a fierce furious battle cry of a book, with all the hardships, triumphs, loves and losses that come with it.’
– Charlie, mugglenet reviewer

For more:

Read our article about Wolf by Wolf’s themes and Graudin’s research here

Try a free extract on the publisher’s website

Buy the book

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