Genre: Young Adult /Alternate History
Publication Date: 2015
My Rating: ★★★.5
Germania, 1956. Over ten years since the Nazis won the war. 18-year-old Yael is part of the resistance, and she has just one mission: to kill Hitler.
But first she's got to get close enough to him to do it.
Experimented on during her time at Auschwitz, Yael 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; one for each of the people she's lost. 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.
I was sent this book from Hachette via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I heard about this book a lot on YouTube last year and the premise intrigued me. One of my favourite genres to read is alternate history and hearing that this book was not only about a world where Hitler won the war, but also had an action-packed motorcycle race in it, made it too good to pass up. I wasn't disappointed in my expectations, but it was very obvious when reading this that it was the first book in a series.
I absolutely loved the sections that took place in the past and explored Yael's time through the Holocaust and beyond. It is a heartbreaking time period to read about, but also something everyone should be aware of. However, I didn't feel as though I got too attached to any of the characters despite the horror of the period; Yael's character was very cold and the other character's felt a bit underdeveloped/not looked into enough, because of her point of view. However, I imagine they will be explored more in the next few books. I think the main reason I found it hard to become attached to characters was that they either weren't in the book long enough, or Yael's character didn't care about them because she wasn't really Victor Wolfe.
I also would have preferred for the book to be longer, but to focus more on Yael's past, World War II, and how she got to where she was; I feel like those parts weren't particularly detailed and left me wanting to hear more about it. I also wanted to feel more sad about such a horrifying, awful, brutal events but the nature of the writing didn't impact me as much as I thought it would. I did find the undertones of identity and race quite powerful and I'm hoping the second book will develop that more.
There wasn't much description of the different countries they travel through, but the action-packed nature of the motor-cycle race definitely made up for it. It's definitely a page-turner and I couldn't stop reading once I picked it up. I read it in only a few hours, it was that addictive. It also had rather open ending and I would've preferred a bit more closure, but since this is only book one I'm excited to see how the series progresses. The final twenty pages were so exciting and shocking that it made it up for some of the things I found lacking in the book. I really enjoyed this book and found it to be a fun read. I'll definitely be picking up the next book to see how the series continues. Graudin's writing is very exciting and I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history/alternate history books.