Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (Book Review)

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Publisher: Orion
Page Count
: 390

I am not really sure where to even start with this review. Maybe it would be wise to mention that I have a little bit of a strenuous relationship with WWII stories. It’s not that I don’t think they can be fantastic and valuable or even entertaining at times, but coming from Austria, there is no way around that topic. You talk about it pretty much every year in class, visit concentration camps and everyone is just afraid of it happening again, so they bombard you with the terror of the past and make you carry the guilt of generations way before your own. Yes, Austria was Hitler’s birth country and yes, we were the first to get annexed to Germany, but fact is, that I had nothing to do with the events of WWII. Yet the way it is treated in my culture still makes me feel like I have to make amends for what happened back then … you can see why I wouldn’t exactly seek out even more of that on my own time then, right?

Despite everything I just said, I still venture out into that world every now and then, because I know that these stories have an even greater impact on me than most things do. So, when I kept hearing about Wolf by Wolf on a regular basis and everyone seemed to love it, I finally caved and I am so glad I did. I wouldn’t want to miss it from my little library.

From the first page onwards, the beautiful writing never lets you go. I couldn’t remember one dull moment in the entire book. Varying between Now and Then, you get a good sense of how Yael has become the person she is now and why she is willing to do the thing she does. You can feel her determination just as much as her doubts and her wavering when she isn’t sure of her actions. Even when she doesn’t know who she really is, you know that she is a good human being.
By the end I was shaking with nerves and not sure I ever really wanted to put that book down again. However, it is just the beginning to a whole series and one has to take that into account. There are so many things still in the open and I NEED to know how it continues. I NEED to know who’s paths are going to cross again. I think I might even consider reading the novella to shorten the wait until November (Yes, you heard right. I want to read a novella at my own free will! That does not happen often!).

If I had to complain about one thing, it would partially be the use of German language. That is really just me nit-picking, because it doesn’t really have much of an impact on the story. However, it just felt so english-fied (I know that that’s not a word, but I don’t care). Sometimes there would just be too many or too few letters to a word, making it something that a native speaker wouldn’t use in a real sentence. And then there were the names. I have to say that most of them were chosen really well, except that if a person is German and their last name was Wolfe, they probably wouldn’t end it with an “e”. Neither would they shorten the name Adele to Ad. As I said though, that’s minor things and I am clearly rambling. The one name that truly nagged me was Luka Löwe … I don’t know how that sounds to you, but to me it sounds like an animated lion from a children’s cartoon, which definitely subtracted from his supposed attractiveness a lot.

Wow, this has gotten so much longer than I planned for. Either way, I think it was a great first book in a series that seemed weirdly realistic and made me shudder to think of what might have happened if events had turned out differently – I can only recommend it!

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! A stunning piece of alternate historical fiction!

5stars

Do you think this book could be for you? Have you already read it? Did you like it?

52 thoughts on “Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (Book Review)

  1. YAAAS ! I have been stalking your blog (yeah I’m not sorry about that haha) waiting for your review to be posted because I saw on GR that you loved it and I was SO happy.
    I knew you were from Austria but I didn’t know how much of an impact WWII had on your culture, thanks for sharing that, it really is kind of eye opening because I never stopped and thought about it.
    So, into the actual review right now, that book is just so fantastic, and as you said the writing is beyond beautiful. I gave it a 5 star rating because well, I don’t speak German. Now, I FINALLY have someone going through the torture of waiting until November with me. yay for that haha!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, I sure can’t speak for all Austrians, but I do feel like there is still a certain pressure to it, that sometimes has a reverse effect on some teenagers. You know, when you push them too hard in a direction, they are bound to rebel.
      I am glad that it wasn’t a massive cliffhanger, like them stopping right when they started dancing or something, but it is still torture to wait. I need to know how it continues.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this awesome review. I have been hearing good things about this one. Also I love hearing non-American perspectives. For example I read an article about Hamlet dealing with what an African tribe thought of it. And it definitely enriched my view of that play. Happy reading!
    x The Captain

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is always interesting to hear the perspective of someone from a different culture 🙂 it’s the beauty of our world that every place is different.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  3. I need to read Wolf By Wolf before its sequel comes out this fall. I already have a copy of it… but… SOOOOO many books to read!! XD

    And I tend to love WWII stories (The Book Thief, All The Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale). I’m not sure why, because of all the horrible things that happened during that time… Then again, sometimes the most terrifying periods in our history made a great backdrop for a story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so glad that you enjoyed it!!! Yay! I think it’s great that you nit picked on the German language, I do that all the time when there’s Spanish in a book and not only is it natural, but also necessary. Authors need to take into account that language is just as important as any other part of characterization

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like I might have to check out this series. Speaking of which, how many books are in it?
    Also, I started Morning Star last night. I only got through the first chapter, though. Oh Darrow! Will thy life ever get easier? Probably not.

    Like

  6. You know, I’ve heard a lot of German and Austrian people saying the same thing- I really don’t agree with the transference of guilt- in any culture or in any situation. People do not deserve to be judged for things they had nothing to do with. I think it’s important that people know about the history, but that’s not the same as feeling like you have to make amends for something you had no part in. I understand that a lot of people originally wanted to acknowledge their own guilt, but that doesn’t mean making other people feel like they bear responsibility. Ironically, that kind of has the opposite effect to what people intend, because it makes people resent hearing/talking/remembering the holocaust. Sorry for that rant- I just feel strongly about this (obviously). And yeah, I don’t read these books too often cos they’re too depressing. Anyhoo- I’ve gone on and on and not even mentioned the book- I really want to read this one- it’s been on my tbr forever! And I’ve heard only good things! Definitely need to read this

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I didn’t think it was a rant at all 😉 I may have overgeneralised a bit, because I of course can’t speak for the entire Austrian or German population. But it is weird, because when I was on my exchange semester in the US, a boy asked me and I kid you not, if my greatparents were Nazis. I was so hurt that he would ask me that and what kind of answer does he expect me to give?
      About the book, it is really great and quick, but obviously only the start to the series. I cannot wait for the rest.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed this book and it’s such an easy story to get sucked in to. I definitely understand your reservations about reading WWII books and I hate that people are still marginalizing an entire country for the actions of one man. It’s like they forget that they also suffered in the war.
    I don’t blame you for the nit picking. I did the same with The Raven Cycle when they talked about the Welsh history/language and even though Glendower is the correct translation, my mind always screams that it’s Glyndwr haha. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I really loved the book. I am hesitant towards WWII books, but in the end I mostly really enjoy them. I am weirdly contradictory like that hahaha
      When the language simply doesn’t sit right, it’s bothersome. And I don’t get it. They mostly intend to publish those books in different languages one day anyway and the publishing houses have partners in different countries. How hard is it to let someone with that language as their primary language look over it?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. YESSS. Well I am so happy to hear you loved this one, Kat! On the other hand, I actually love WWII stories since growing up in school we don’t get the European perspective of things living in America. But I am really glad you picked this up because of the well-deserved hype its received. And the novella is so good! You should definitely read it to help with the wait until the sequel comes out. Oh my gosh, I’m so curious about what’s going to happen, too! I feel like the cliffhanger is bearable but it’s still a cliffhanger nonetheless, hehe. And wonderful review! I can see what you mean by the English-fying of the languages. I think they mentioned the Japanese language a little bit and I felt iffy during some of the descriptions as well (being someone that has a lot of Japanese friends in real life, etc). 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This gets more points from me for the fact that an Austrian liked it. I am VERY hesitant about reading a German alt history story written by an American who has never lived in Germany. Alt history in general can be dangerously manipulative (Comment threads on Man in the High Castle somehow always manage to lead to a justification of Hiroshima). I do like good writing though, so I may give it a shot.

    Luka Lowe is ridiculous 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am glad that my stamp of approval for the book might have persuaded you to check it out 😀
      I thought it was well done and the flaws it had were only minor ones. The thing is, it barely takes place in Germany, so he couldn’t do that much wrong hahaha

      Like

  10. Wow!! I am really intrigued by this book just based on the fact that you read it and felt the need to pick it up! I can understand that you are most likely living in a constant state of WWII reminders. While it is necessary to continue educating and reminding people of the past, I am sure it becomes redundant for you.

    On to your review! Beautiful writing will draw me into any story that I am not quite sure about. While, I don’t have a familiarity with the German language, that name does sound something like a Sailor Moon character. I will definitely be adding this one to my TBR. Thank you for such an insightful review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I agree that it is important to communicate what happened and to educate in terms of how it could ever get that far. History has a bad tendency of repeating itself and we definitely don’t want that particular streak to happen again. There’s just a way to do all that without pushing it too far.
      Beautiful and different writing is the best. I love myself some regular story-telling as well, but the unique ones always stick to my mind more.

      Like

  11. I get so annoyed when authors use phrases in different languages that would never have been said in that way. It’s like when Magnus said “I love you” in Indonesian to Alec and I was just like no, please stop. I love Magnus though so I can’t really hold it against him XD I have to read this book soon though, your review just cements that! It’s really interesting to hear how WWII has affected Germany and Austria, I had no idea that the Holocaust is an annual topic in schools.If even you could like this book then it must be amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The author wanted to be really crafty and use German swear words, but the way he used them just seemed off … :/
      I hope you will pick up Wolf by Wolf one day though 😀 it was great and only had really minor flaws.

      Liked by 1 person

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