“Her self-reflection was no reflection at all. It was a shattered mirror. Something she had to piece together, over and over again. Memory by memory. Loss by loss. Wolf by wolf.”
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?
Feelings: Wow. Wow. Wow. This book was different from how I expected it to be. It wasn’t until I’d completely finished the book that I really understood it. I understood that it’s all about identity – how we shape our lives and our outlooks, and how we see others around us. Yael, as a skinshifter, had even forgotten what her real face looked like. This book follows her journey of self discovery and what her place is in the world.
The writing style was different from anything I’ve read in a while, so that was a breath of fresh air. Ryan Graudin has a unique voice; she has a beautiful way of describing a character’s feelings and fears. I felt with Yael and what she was going through, throughout the story. She writes with a heavy hands towards metaphors, which I know bothers some people, but I love it.
Issues: Sometimes the flashbacks took away from the action of the outside story. Historical fiction oftentimes has a number of flashbacks, helping build understanding and supporting character development. In this book, they were crucial to understanding who Yael was and what her motivations were, but sometimes they interrupted the flow of the story. The motorycle race was so action packed that when the flashbacks were over, it took me a minute to get back into the outside story. It felt kind of up and down.
Characters: Yael is a really complex character. Her motivations were so grounded in her past experiences, but then she starts to question herself. I thought that was very realistic and easy to relate to – you think you know what you’re doing and are confident that it’s the right path, but then life happens and you second guess everything. Yael quickly became one of my favorite fictional female characters ever. She’s a survivor and a she-wolf, intriguing and again…very complex.
I couldn’t figure Luka out and even after finishing the book I’m not sure how to feel about him. And Felix, I love. I’m all for those protective brother characters! The sequel comes out this November, so some of the things I’m looking for involve Felix’s involvement and hopefully nailing Luka’s character down.
Genre: What an intriguing twist on history! I really enjoyed reading the alternate to reality and the possibilities if the war had turned out differently. At the same time, this story was a little out of my comfort zone because this was a difficult future to want to imagine.
Comparisons: This book made me think of the Amazon show, The Man in the High Castle. It’s similar in the sense that the Germans have won the war and have peace with the Japanese, splitting the land between them.
Final thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, overall. It’s fast paced, has a lot of depth, and is set up nicely for a sequel! If you’re wanting to read something that’s truly unique and shakes up your reading palate a little bit, this is the book for you.
Pick this up if you liked:
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
The Man in the High Castle series on Amazon Prime (or the book)
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Goodreads rating: 4.33/5
Amazon.com rating: 4.5/5
My rating: 4.5/5
Happy reading! – Caitlyn