*Both the podcast and this review contain mild spoilers*
The wolves of war are gathering…
Graudin throws us deep into the world that would have been had the Axis won and Hitler survived. Not only are Jews continuing to face the threat of concentration camp, but Hitler’s racist efforts have stretched as far as western Russia and down to the African continent. He is exacting mass exterminations on anyone not “Aryan” and repopulating these countries with Germans by the droves. His “Lebenstraum settlement” plan is in full effect.
Yael has survived the worst horror anyone could ever dream of facing in their lives; not only has she endured human experimentation that altered her very genetic makeup, but she has survived and escaped life in a concentration camp. She lost her mother, her friends, everyone, but she made it out. That’s the irony of it all; these experiments allowed her to skinshift. She can physically transform herself into anyone that she wants. Once out of the camps, she happens upon the resistance, an effort planning to rise against Hitler and free the world from his tyrannical power.
However, Hitler has made plans of his own. Not only is he keenly aware of the fact that many want him to die, he has taken every effort to make sure that he is protected. The only way to get close enough to Hitler to execute him is to participate in the Axis Tour race, win, and kill him at the ball held for the race’s victor. Yael finds herself taking on the identity of Adele Wolfe, a former victor, and racing against other teens from Germania and the Japanese empire. Yael is about to face her toughest journey yet and she’ll need her strength more than ever if she wishes to survive and complete her mission.
I’m going to keep this opinion section rather short because I discuss most of this in the podcast above, but I will note a few things down here. I absolutely adore a good historical fiction novel. It’s always been my favorite genre because not only does it transport you to a very real time and place, but you can learn so much about the past, a different country, culture, and more! My coworker first pointed this book out to me as a recommendation and I knew I had to read it for two reasons: the first being that my coworker NEVER reads historical fiction. So if she liked it, it was bound to be amazing. Second, a speculative fiction novel about how the world would be if Hitler had won sounded both terrifying and enthralling. Would it work? Would it be a flop? So much could go wrong with the execution of a book like that.
All I’ll say is, it worked. It really really worked. This is definitely one of my top 5 favorites of the year and I even think it could be a Printz contender. Listen to our podcast above to hear our review in more detail!
Dawn and I record the Small Print podcast every other Monday at 1:30 CST about ARCs that will be published the following Tuesday. Join us on November 2nd as we podcast Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young.