Saturday, October 10, 2015

Review: Wolf By Wolf (Graudin)

What if the Nazis won WWII? What if in 1956, Hitler were still fuhrer and now in control of a huge, unstoppable European empire? What if concentration camps and ethnic cleansing of Jews and other minorities never stopped? What if one girl, a victim of medical experimentation, were the only one who could end Hitler's reign permanently?

AUTHOR: Ryan Graudin
SERIES: Wolf By Wolf, book 1
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown
PUBLICATION DATE: October 20, 2015
ISBN: 9780316405126
PAGES: 400
SOURCE: Edelweiss
GENRE: alternate history
SETTING: 1945, 1956 Europe, Asia, Africa
GIVE IT TO: upper-MS, HS


SUMMARY: The victim of Nazi medical experiments, Yael Wolf now has the ability to change her appearance at will. Eleven years after her escape from the Nazi labor camp, Yael now works with an underground resistance movement. Her task is to use her secret skinshifting ability to win a cross-continent motorbike race so she can get close enough to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

REVIEW: Another 2015 favorite! Wolf By Wolf is creative, unique, and difficult to put down. Wolf By Wolf is set in 1956, eleven years after what should have been the end of WWII and Adolf Hitler and his Nazis. But this book examines what would have happened if Hitler had won the war. In Wolf By Wolf, Hitler is fuhrer of all of Germania, which encompasses all of Europe and some of Africa and Asia. Japan also owns an enormous swath of Asia and Africa. The Americas are licking their wounds and not at all involved in Hitler's conquests. Concentration and labour camps are still very much alive, and Jews, minorities, and prisoners are still being sent to their deaths in Nazi gas chambers.

The story centers on a 22,000 km motorbike race. Twenty Japanese and German teens compete to win the Iron Cross and make their countries proud by showing the world how fit and strong their citizens are. If Yael can win the motorbike race, she will be invited to the victor's ball, where she hopes to dance with Adolf Hitler and kill him in front of the world. To do this, Yael will need to skinshift and live life as Adele Wolfe, the 17-year old winner of last year's race.

I loved Yael's toughness, and I loved trying to figure out what was up with other racers. There are so many unanswered questions, and I anxiously await the sequel.

I always tell my students what I am currently reading before I start any presentation or lesson in the library. When I told my students about this book, they were riveted. Though it is not out just yet, I'm already making plans to buy multiple copies.

I am also a member of the Panda Book Award Steering Committee. Panda is an international book award where students vote to select their favorite book in four categories: young readers (grades K-2), middle readers (grades 3-6), older readers (grades 7-9), and mature readers (grades 10-12). Each category has 8-10 books on the list, and students vote for one winning book in each category.

I will be nominating Wolf By Wolf for consideration for next year's list.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Don't miss this one--it's exciting, interesting, and internationally-minded. One of my favorites of 2015!

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: Due to my students' response when I told them about it, I'm planning to order several copies.

READALIKES: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (Boyne); All the Light We Cannot See (Doerr)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 5/5
  • Creativity: 5/5
  • Characters: 4/5--Yael much better-developed than the other characters
  • Engrossing: 4/5
  • Writing: 5/5--love some of the metaphors and descriptive language used
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5--this was very easy to booktalk
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5

CONTENT:

  • Language: mild; some German profanity
  • Sexuality: mild; two mild kisses
  • Violence: medium; motorbike sabotage causes teen deaths, Yael's goal is to assassinate Hitler
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild; sedatives slipped into drinks to sabotage other racers

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