My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: October 20th 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Point of View: 3rd Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Alternative History, Post World War II, Competition, Race-to-the-end
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s ball.
Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?
You are special. You can live. You are going to change things.
Adolf Hitler won World War II. He is one of the most powerful men on earth. Experiments on human beings to make them pure – blue eyes and blond hair – are conducted on death camp prisoners. To honour the Great Victory, every year a motorcycle race is held for teenagers from the Hitler Youth and the Great Japan Sincerity Association.
Yael, a victim of the experiments, decides to impersonate last year’s victor, Adele Wolfe, and kill Adolf Hitler in hope of sparking a revolution from the population.
You see, Yael is no ordinary girl; she is a shapeshifter. Her mission is simple, but she is facing many complications that make her racing arduous.
I seldom read historical fiction. In fact, I can probably count on my fingers the amount of historical novels that I have read in 2015 and 2016. It’s not that the genre doesn’t appeal to me, but I’m constantly more attracted to premises from fantasy books. But when I read this book’s description, I knew that I had to give it a chance, especially since my last read by this author – The Walled City – was a winner for me.
Many have already stated how original this story is. I agree. I’ve never read anything quite like it. The race-to-the-end aspect definitely held my attention. However, its length comes with scheduled stalling and repetitiveness. I’m grateful for the sporadic jumps in time though, because it takes the reader away from the race to introduce new information about Yael just enough for him to miss the competition when he is brought back to it.
I like when characters have a goal and go through with it – or are doing everything in their power to achieve it. The word ”faltering” is not part of Yael’s vocabulary. She is all in. Killing Adolf Hitler is all she’s thinking about, making the world a better place is all she’s thinking about – or so.
Come in Luka and Felix, the two boys who are putting her plan to risk. She thought she knew everything about Adele, but impersonating her made her realize how they are many layers to Adele and people in her life that she failed to discover. Felix is doing everything in his power to bring her home and Luka to win her over. Could they be allies or new enemies?
There’s a slight amount of romance in this book, which completely took me by surprise and, frankly, I wish there weren’t any. I didn’t like the ‘‘love saves the day’’ element at the end.
This is an imperfect book, but makes for an enjoyable and pertinent read for all fans of alternative history.
Babushka—the one who gave her purpose.
Mama—the one who gave her life.
Miriam—the one who gave her freedom.
Aaron-Klaus—the one who gave her a mission.
Vlad—the one who gave her pain.
These were the names she whispered in the dark.
These were the pieces she brought back into place.
These were the wolves she rode to war.