Title: Blood For Blood
Author: Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf By Wolf, #2
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 1st 2016
Ryan Graudin’s Wolf By Wolf is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Yael’s story was heartbreaking and moving, but was infused with such hope that it was hard to put down. In Blood For Blood, the conclusion to Graudin’s alternate history duology, Yael seeks to finish what she started after the assassination attempt on Hitler is thwarted by the same people who turned her into a skinshifter. Not everyone has realized that Yael did not kill the real Hitler, but her actions have set off a series of events, meant to signal a revolution. Across Europe, resistance fighters are rising up, willing to give their lives if it means crushing the Nazi regime for good, not knowing that the vile dictator still lives. As members of the resistances fight for their right to live, Yael and the people she’s met along the way are faces with difficult choices, between doing what is easy and being brave enough to do what’s right.
Yael is one of my favorite literary characters. Her resilience in the face of injustice and hatred is awe-inspiring, and in this second installment, she continues to impress me with her strength. In many ways Yael’s story comes full circle in this one. She’s struggled with identity issues since she was a child when the experiments done on her stripped her of who she was. The accusation of “monster” has been hanging over her ever since her own mother muttered the word. Yael has spent so much time being other people in order to aid the resistance, but in Blood For Blood, Yael’s most important role is being herself. She must comes to grips with who she is and what she’s done, and an important person from her past helps her to reconcile these feelings.
Graudin weaves many of the characters’ pasts throughout, painting both tragic and hopeful stories. In this second novel, we get a look at Felix’s and Luka’s perspectives. Felix’s character was defined heavily by his desperation to keep his sister safe. Still grieving his older brother’s death, Felix is the glue that has kept his family together. He’s convinced that he must keep them all safe no matter the cost. Luka’s character arc is perhaps my favorite. The arrogant two-time Axis Tour victor should be a character you could easily dislike, but he proves to be more and not just through his relationship with Yael. Luka does a lot of soul searching in this one. He’s lived a pretty scot-free life and has had the privilege of not acknowledging the horrors that Hitler and his party have committed. Luka learns to accept his own culpability, realizing that ignorance does not equal innocence. He also must decide where to go from here, if he’s willing to remain indifferent or finally take a stand.
Blood For Blood is just as heart-wrenching as its predecessor. Many of the characters are broken in different ways and healing is a slow process. Sacrifices are not just an option, they’re a given in a cruel world that demands the highest price from those willing to fight for what is right.