Hitler won World War II. Now Germania and Japan are in control of most of the world. To commemorate their glorious victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito have established a yearly motorcycle race. 20 teens from the ages of 14-18 may enter (10 from Japan and 10 Aryan Germanians), but only one will win and be awarded the iron cross. Yael is definitely not Aryan. In fact, she escaped from a Nazi prison camp when she was a little girl. She had been a victim of scientific experimentation and now she has the ability to “skinshift”. As a part of the resistance, her mission is to impersonate last year’s winner (the only female to have ever won), win the race, and assassinate Hitler at the Victor’s Ball on live TV.
I REALLY LIKED THIS BOOK. Seriously, it was fantastic. I haven’t read that much historical fiction, but I feel like it’s a genre that I could really get into. Especially World War II. I find that period especially interesting for whatever reason. The thing about this book that’s so great is the speculation. The author mentions in a note at the end that she likes to ask the question, “What if?” In this case, I really think it paid off. Even though there’s one major fantastical element (with Yael’s skinshifting), the rest all seems so plausible. Would something like this have happened if Hitler had won the war? Who knows?
The plot was great. It was straightforward and not too messy with other (irrelevant) subplots. I liked that it was so focused because it kept me interested in the story. There weren’t any distracting elements that way. Every few chapters or so the reader gets a flashback into Yael’s past, but it’s done so seamlessly that you don’t feel pulled out of the main narrative while you’re reading the backstory. The writing was also fantastic. Throughout the book Yael struggles a bit with her sense of identity and those passages are always written with such care. Beautiful, beautiful writing.
The characters were another highlight for me. They all had distinct personalities and I enjoyed getting to know some of the other racers. Yael as a character was a little unrelatable though. She’s very angry as a person. But even though I couldn’t connect as well with her, I was okay with that. I was still able to enjoy who she was as a character even though I couldn’t put myself in her shoes.
So yeah, I loved the book, but it wasn’t perfect. There were a few things that I had some issues with. First, the characters seem older than they’re supposed to be. Felix, Yael, Adele, and Luka are all supposed to be 17…but I couldn’t help but picture them in their 20s. It was just hard for me to imagine them as teenagers. Second, I had a hard time buying Yael’s skill on a motorcycle. Assuming she started training IMMEDIATELY after Adele won her first iron cross, that still only gives Yael one year of training. And then she’s just going to show up and race against guys who have been racing their whole lives and win? I just can’t believe it’s that “easy”.
Overall, the book was great. I had a couple of issues with it, but I still love it and seriously recommend it to ANYONE. It comes out officially 10/20 so make sure you go pre-order yourself a copy!
Overall Rating: 5
Language: None. All cursing is done in German.
Violence: Moderate. Some fighting and violence, but not too much gore. Some talk/description of blood.
Sexual Content: None (Some talk of breeding houses, but I wouldn’t really classify that as sexual content).
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate. Some drinking, quite a few mentions of “underage” smoking.
Note: I received this book free from both the NOVL and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.