Welcome to the 2016 Cybils Speculative Reader!
As a first run reader for the Cybils, I'll be briefly introducing you to the books on the list, giving you a mostly unbiased look at some of the plot.
Synopsis: In a series of flashbacks, the story of a determined little girl emerges. She's flotsam in a death camp, chosen for her unflinching gaze. The Third Reich doctor who takes over her life has seen something in her eyes... something unbroken, despite the human wreckage of the genocide going on around her...
Flash forward, it's 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan are sweeping through the world. America is crying "Peace at All Costs" as loudly as it can, hoping against hope that the ocean and their nonaggressive stance will save them, but in this story, The Fuhrer is alive and well - despite numerous assassination attempts - and he's come for... basically everyone. Italy is lost. Africa is lost. Everywhere the world is preparing for the Aryan heel to land solidly on new soil, conquering and claiming.
Yale is preparing, too - preparing to impersonate a woman she is not, preparing to fool that woman's beau, brother, and the eyes of the whole world to get close enough to -- at long last -- to do what has been years in the works. She will unveil herself as the Valkyrie - and finally, find her purpose.
But resistance and revolution is easy. Remembering who you are is harder than it looks.
Observations: Readers might wonder how a novel which is basically historical fiction ends up in the science fiction/fantasy fiction pile, but remember that our title is "speculative," which means that alternative history that asks "What If?" comes neatly under our banner. What if the Allies had never stopped Adolf Hitler? What if the Jews had been all but eliminated from the world? What would be changed - in Germany, in the Middle East, in Europe and America? What would be left of the world we knew in 1956? What would the Resistance be like?
In some ways, this is a very original premise, though there have been hundreds of stories where the Third Reich is resurrected so that it can be taken down/taken apart in a new way. The race is an excellent, interesting conceit, taking the "rebel with a cause" idea and running a new direction. The danger, cunning, mild violence, and suspense were very well done. I was less enamored of there being romance, and the idea that Yael, who was otherwise unflinching, would be derailed by this -- but also understand that some people believe YA lit *must* have a romance, or else.
Conclusion: Fond of heart-pounding thrillers, narrow escapes, and a fan of WWII noble heroines? Have I got a book for you!
I received my copy of this book courtesy of the public library. You can find WOLF BY WOLF by Ryan Graudinat an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!