After finishing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in the first week of January, I decided to finally knock one of my TBR that whilst not being a hugely overdue read, it has already been on countless monthly TBR's for me, and so I knew it was time to finally get to it. I've also been missing historical fiction recently and felt the real need to read some after looking over what I read last year and realizing how little I ever reached for it.
This book follows our main character Yael, a death camp survivor, as she impersonates Adele Wolf, the last winner of the Axis world motorcycle race, in an attempt to assassinate Hitler. Personally, I absolutely loved the character of Yael throughout the book and really enjoyed seeing her grow and progress throughout the novel. I also really liked how we slowly learnt more and more about her as the story went on as well as how realistic she seemed. She wasn't presented as a just a cold tough character but was shown to be strong despite her fears and her weaknesses, and as someone who does makes mistakes.
One thing I particularly enjoyed though was the small glimpses we got into her past and how we were able to see how she became the person she is by the time she enters the race. I also loved reading about her ability to skinshift and the story behind it again, and really liked the different aspect this brought to the story as she impersonates Adele.
Luckily though, whilst Yael was definitely my favourite, the other characters didn't fall far behind her, especially Luka and Felix, who both individually brought so much to the story. I really enjoyed learning more about both of these characters, particularly Luka, as the story progressed, but how they still managed to surprise me even at the end of the novel. I also adored how contrasting but yet amazing similar they seemed to be at different points, with Felix being just the nicest character who would do anything to save his sister, and Luka being this perfect Aryan boy who wasn't ever what he seemed.
One of the key things that drew me to this book was its historical aspect, particularly how it was set in an alternative past and not a straightforward historical fiction. However, that didn't stop this one from being filled with so many little gems and hints of factual historical information that made me so happy whilst reading this. I also loved how accurate and realistic it felt, even when the information was no longer factual, and how anything that happened past our real history still felt like it could have been what would have happened and wasn't miles away from reality.
Given that I loved all of these things, it is no surprise that the plot was just as good as well. Whilst I was the slightest bit skeptical beforehand about whether a book about a motorcycle race would actually hook me, I ended up addicted to all the action and strategy and politics it brought. I loved reading about all the different tactics the race brought, as well as seeing how the racers themselves actually interacted and how the relationships between them developed. I also adored how many good plot twists this brought that were so unpredictable and came at some of the best moments, particularly at the end. My only exceptionally tiny bugbear came with the middle of the book, where the flashbacks stopped and the story felt just a little bit repetitive and lacked the pace and energy it had the rest of the way through.
Whilst I knew the plot was likely to interest me, one thing I was scared about not enjoying was the writing style, and the pace of the book, so I was so glad when this one not only kept me hooked but was also written in a way that made it so easy to get into and get immersed in. I also loved how the flashbacks were interwoven into the story in small pieces, slowly given to us instead of all at once, and think this really helped change the pace of the story at times as well as keep it going and keep both storylines moving along.
Finally, as if this book wasn't good enough already, the ending just had to come along and blow all my expectations away. Not only did it end in a way that was so unpredictable and that I was definitely not expecting, but it also set everything up so well for the next book without forcing the story into a sequel. It ended so well and exactly how I wanted it to without being expected in any way at all.
So all in all, I definitely enjoyed this one an awful lot more than I was initially expecting to. I loved the plot and adored the characters, and now can't wait to read the sequel to see where the story goes next!
Scene: The Victors Ball
Quote: The world was not just moving. It was alive.
And it was ready to fight.
And it was ready to fight.
Song: An Act of Kindness by Bastille
Haunting by Halsey
Haunting by Halsey
Other Book: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough