Published by Little Brown on November 1, 2016
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The action-packed, thrilling sequel to Ryan Graudin’s Wolf by Wolf.
There would be blood.
Blood for blood.
Blood to pay.
An entire world of it.
For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.
Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.
But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?
This gripping, thought-provoking sequel to Wolf by Wolf will grab readers by the throat with its cinematic writing, fast-paced action, and relentless twists.
I felt a bit winded as I finished reading Blood for Blood. It’s an exhausting, emotional, punch-to-the-gut kind of read, and making it to the end feels like its own kind of victory. This is a book that is in turn triumphant, bittersweet, and harrowing. It is a journey that is both cathartic and enraging which might not seem like the most satisfactory reading experience, but one that has an undeniable sense of rightness. It’s an important read, even more so now than before.
I enjoyed this volume more than its predecessor, for a number of reasons. I am not a huge fan of journey-type narratives, and Wolf by Wolf is very much that. It’s very straight-forward in that the point of the book is getting from Point A to Point B. This is true of many narratives, but I find the particulars of a motorcycle race not that engaging. I knew, for the most part, exactly how the book would go; there’s only so much that can go on in a strictly monitored race. The predictability kept me from feeling full invested or engaged.
But in Blood for Blood, Yael and co. are fleeing for their lives, mostly on foot, across a war-ravaged continent. Any time the element of uncertain survival is added my emotional attachment is immediately deepened. Count me in for treks through frost-bitten taiga with literal wolves scratching at the door. Also bands of enemy soldiers, spies, uncertain allies…human enemies are just as present as the harsh indifference of nature.
Unlike Wolf by Wolf, this book offers multiple perspectives. I was glad of this as it allows us more insight into the spy antics of the previous book. It also gives us, naturally, deeper insight into the other characters and a chance (both a blessing and a curse in this case) to care much more for them.
And Blood for Blood is by far the more emotional book. I had a lot of food for thought with this volume as Yael’s desire for (very justified) vengeance is the true heart and pulse of Wolf by Wolf, but that is not the case so much here. Yael knows both Luka and Felix well by this point in the narrative and has become attached to them. Her drive to get back to Germania safely also includes the safe return of both boys. Does Yael’s desire to care for these two and see them safely home make her weak?
But I think that emotion is not weakness. Caring for others, even if they do not deserve it, is not a weakness. We are not lessened by the giving of our hearts. We know, and Yael knows, that Luka’s morality falls firmly on the side of righteousness. It’s more justified to us as the reader that she care for him. This is less the case with Felix, whose motives are much less discernible and whose attachment for Yael relies solely on the pseudo-sibling bond she made with him while posing as Adele.
Everything good that is come by in this book is a result of fighting tooth and nail for it. Even the incredibly bittersweet ending that had me shaking my head in justified rage while simultaneously filling me with so much admiration for Yael’s incredible strength of character.
I was a little surprised by the romance in this book. Both because I didn’t think it would happen, and also because, while I didn’t think 100% buy it, at no point did it feel false or forced into the story. I think this rests on the strength of Graudin’s writing. Stronger than in the first book, it has a powerful, organic flow that (mostly) stays far from purple. To me, the “romance” isn’t so much a romance as it is a deep emotional connection that leaves both parties for the better.
I read most of this particular book in the hours and days after Election Day, which I can tell you did not particularly help my state of mind. It had me, though, in a particular state of heightened emotion. More than ever, I could feel so deeply for the wrongness of Yael’s world, and hope so fervently, and call to action that we never return to such.
“But there’s no turning back now. We do the only thing we can.”
“We hope,” Miriam told her. “We hope and we fight.”