Wolf by Wolf: Printz Contender

wolf by wolf

Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1)

By Ryan Graudin

Genre: Historical Fiction/Science Fiction

Expected Publication Date: October 20, 2015

Bang Bang Rating:bang

“Fraulein, Made of lies and vice and things not so nice.”


What would the world be like if Hitler’s Aryan nation plan had succeeded?  It’s 1956 and Yael, a skinshifter, has been assigned the task of killing the fuhrer by entering and winning a motorcycle race.

The Good

  • Wolf by Wolf explores many themes and one is the “what ifs.” It envisions a world where one of the vital events that happened during WWII never happened and Hitler’s reign expands.  What’s good about this? It causes readers to think about life and how one decision or one event can forever alter it. Would women be where we are today? Would we have a Black president?  Although this is a science fiction book where Yael can change her brown hair and brown eyes to look Aryan, it would be a great reading required book for teens because it starts a conversation about the world we live in.
  • A second theme explored is identity.  The book begins with Yael as a five year old and she’s on a train to a concentration camp.  She’s a subject of experimentation and it causes her to shift her appearance.  She of course shifts to blond hair and blue eyes so that she can survive but at one point she says she has forgotten what she looks like.  She constantly shifts to look like other people and she struggles with who she is. Yale is tasked with killing Hitler and there will be some collateral damage but can she mercilessly kill innocent bystanders?  I think everyone at some point in their life, especially young people, wonders who they are.
  • A third theme is prejudice. Yael was sent to a concentration camp at five and watched people die. She hates Hilter, the Hitler Youth, and everything associated with it but when she competes with a couple of the Hitler youth and sees that they are good people, it causes her to question her prejudices. The Hitler youth are victims as well.  They of course have it better than the Jews however, women are oppressed and young people are forced to live a certain way.  No one is free. Once again, this is a great lesson for the kiddies.
  • Yael.  Yael is a wonderful heroine because she’s strong and tough but she has a conscious and she constantly thinking.  She reminded me of Arya Stark from Game of Thrones.  There were people in her life that were wronged and all her hard work was for them.
  • The Writing. Graudin tells Yael’s story in flashbacks so you aren’t bombarded with a lot of information in the beginning.  You are only getting bits and pieces as you read which creates mystery.  It’s never predictable and it has some great characters.  There’s even a little romance.

The Bad

There was nothing bad about this book.  It’s ALL GOOD.


I am not a lover of history and I don’t enjoy the historical fiction but Wolf by Wolf was a speculative roller coaster ride from start to finish.

Although Printz honorees are usually contemporary titles, I hope Wolf by Wolf is considered.


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