Thursday, October 25, 2018

Book Recommendations: WOLF BY WOLF and BLOOD FOR BLOOD by Ryan Graudin

My library has a small what's-new-in-YA shelf tucked into one of its back corners, and it's a testament to how much I love YA that I'm willing to drag my six-month-old back there, chubby cheeks, car seat, and all. That was how, a month or two ago, I stumbled across Ms. Graudin's WOLF BY WOLF, and I loved it so much that I immediately reserved BLOOD FOR BLOOD.

Though my library must have just acquired it, WOLF BY WOLF actually came out back in 2015. It's an alternate-reality sci-fi in which the Axis powers actually won World War II. Now, more than a decade later, they sponsor an annual motorcycle race for young German and Japanese riders that spans Europe, Africa, and Asia. Yael, a Jewish girl who escaped a concentration camp after Nazi experiments turned her into a shapeshifter, has been training for this race for what feels like her whole life. As a member of the floundering resistance that tried--and failed--to topple Hitler during World War II, she has to win the race to come face to face with the Fuhrer, who only appears in public once a year, at the victor's ball. A live-streamed assassination, one the regime can't cover up, is the catalyst they need to turn their floundering resistance into a full-blown revolution. She has the skills to pull it off--if the secret ex-boyfriend and the overprotective twin brother of the girl whose skin she's borrowing don't throw her off her game.

I'm a huge fan of historical sci-fis, so I probably would have liked this book even if Ms. Graudin hadn't executed it as well as she did. Despite the pages of backstory the plot had to fill us in on, the story never got bogged down, and the characters were both interesting and well-developed, with crisscrossing objectives and personalities that clashed as often as they got along. I was particularly drawn to Yael. I like my YA characters on the maturer side, and she turned out to be as mature and focused as they come.

Have you read WOLF BY WOLF and BLOOD FOR BLOOD? If so, what did you think? And if you've read any of Ms. Graudin's other books, which one should I try next?