In this version of history, our main character, Yael, has escaped from a Nazi death camp but only after being experimented upon and almost killed. The doctor was trying to turn her into an Aryan by using drugs to change her skin, eye, and hair color. A side effect of this treatment is that now Yael has the power to shape shift. She can put on the face of anyone she sees.
Hitler has continued to take over land and try to rid the world of entire civilizations. He and Emperor Hirohito have taken over the Eurasian continent and northern Africa. In the "present," which is 1956, Yael has trained with the resistance to impersonate a teen, Adele, who has won the coveted Axis Tour, an annual motorcycle race from Germany to Tokyo. Adele was the first female to ever win (or even compete in) the race. Now Yael will kidnap her, impersonate her, win this year's race, and assassinate Hitler at the Victory Ball.
We get Yael's backstory in bits and pieces. She describes the people who the five wolves she has tattooed on her arm commemorate. These wolves are designed so they hide the tattoo of her prisoner number that she was given while in the death camp.
Wolf by Wolf is hard to put down. The pacing is nonstop, and the racing is brutal and sometimes deadly. Yael's road to victory is not straightforward, and she must make difficult choices. The descriptions of the death camp are horrifying (as they always are.) The whole shape shifting thing is a bit far-fetched, but that's not what the story is about. It serves a purpose.
I hope Wolf by Wolf gets some attention. I believe it could be the stepping off point for some interesting conversations about racism (both historical and current) and being true to oneself. Or as the author's note says "to impart a deeper understanding of what humanity is capable of. Both the good and the evil." Lots of food for thought.
Published by Little, Brown BFYR, October 20, 2015
eARC obtained from NetGalley
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