Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers -Released: October 20, 2015
Summary: 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?
My Thoughts: This book was fantastic! Yael, our strong main heroine, gets chosen to be part of an experiment, which causes her to shape-shift, while taken to a death camp. While the main story focuses on her entering a motorcycle race to kill Hitler, we get alternating chapters that show the people she lost and how the experiment she underwent, drove her to change things.
The intrigue surrounding the various riders kept the plot interesting and mysterious. Yael impersonates Adele Wolfe to try and win the race. With that, she has to learn to be Adele with what she has learned and what Adele’s past competitors know of her.
She forms alliances and enemies along the way, while staying fully focused on her goal. What also made this story more complex was how Yael would question herself, in terms of her shape-shifting. She was not sure she even understood who she personally was, if she was constantly shifting her appearance. With that, we learn how alone she feels and how her losses drive her to win.
A plot point which I was not expecting, was Yael to lose! After all the work she went through to win in the first place. However, Luka, one of her “allies” in the race offers her the chance to join him at the ball. With that, her plan continues.
I loved how seamlessly Ryan was able to weave Yael’s past with the present and have it all connect. Yael also has 5 wolves tattooed to her arm. Those wolves all have different stories and push her to win the race and make a difference.
The ending took me by surprise! In the beginning, we learn Yael is special because she is the first to survive the shape-shifting “experiments”. With her main goal being to kill Hitler, she does just that, but it turns out he was a doppelganger! Luckily she escapes unharmed, but this ending really has me excited to start book 2!
If you love YA-Historical Fiction, alternate history, non-stop action and intrigue, or want to read about a strong YA-Heroine, definitely pick this book up!