Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

bloodforblood_coverBlood for Blood by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #2 (2/2)
Published by  Little, Brown Books on November 1, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Pages: 481
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read With: Lois at My Midnight Musings

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million

3.5 Stars, Completed November 8, 2016

– read only the bold text to avoid major SPOILERS  –

Blood for Blood is the second and final installment to the Wolf by Wolf duology. It begins with Yael on the run after having just assassinated Adolf Hitler on live television. But it seems like the truth of what happened at the Victors’ ball is much more complicated than what the world saw. The man Yael shot was only another skinshifter, like herself, that took up Hitler’s face as a guise. The consequences for treason and murder is inescapable, and the Resistance is unable to recover after having started Operation Valkyrie too soon. The only way in saving the few people Yael has left in her life is for her to travel across enemy territory in hope of reversing the New Order and completing this last mission without fail.

“There will blood. There will be more than enough. The world is about to drown in it.”

The title foreshadowed blood was going to be spilled, but I was still unprepared for what was going to go down.

This sequel was as action-packed as the first installment if not more. Unlike Wolf by Wolf and Iron to Iron, a novella that served as a prequel for the series, an Axis Tour does not take place. Instead, there’s a greater focus on war, strategy, and politics. Readers get insight on the opposing sides of war, the perspectives of captors and prisoners, and the depravity (with the perpetrators) and despair (with the victims) wartime induces. However, most importantly it realistically portrays that there’s a fine line between the corrupt and innocent. It reminds readers that with war, alliances and loyalties are tough because on both sides of battle there are humans alike.

Yael wanted to be like the Valkyrie maidens in the old Norse lore. Winged women who rode to war on the backs of wolves, choosing which soldiers lived and died. She’d thought she could make death mean something, if she wielded it right. (A death to end this death.)

I loved Yael’s narrative in Wolf by Wolf and didn’t think I could like her more, but I was proven wrong. She remains as a fearsome heroine similar to the last book, and I so enjoyed that in this installment Yael poses as no one but herself. Lois and I agreed that identity is again a central theme with Yael’s character development as well as other members of the cast. (I am mainly thinking of Luka).

I was certainly charmed by Luka in the previous book and novella, but I really fell for him with this sequel. The added complexity to his character might be my favorite aspect of Blood for Blood. His horrified realization about the camps and experiments and the compassion he had for Yael and the Resistance were beautiful moments to witness. His ability to accept and admit to his past cowardliness and courage to see the world differently even if that meant overturning all that he was taught was so commendable. His devotion to doing what’s right made my heart melt and view him as a hero. Luka is book boyfriend material, I tell you.

Yael was not a monster. Luka was not the next generation of National Socialism. They were what the Reich would come to fear the most. A jewish girl and a German boy holding the future and the past in their hands-together.

It’s been over a week since I’ve finished this thrilling sequel, but my heart still aches because of that ending though. I literally went through an abbreviated period of the five stages of grief because of it. When I reached the moment with Luka, I had to stop reading and take a breather because I wasn’t expecting his death at all. Naturally after the shock, denial was the first emotion to hit. I thought that this could not be the end. I even hoped that he was going to be brought back to life miraculously (even though I had no idea how this could happen reasonably). But eventually I reached the final stage of acceptance. (However, when I went to Yallfest I did “demand” an apology from Ryan Graudin. She was so nice to go along with it. THIS IS A MAJOR SPOILER. DO NOT OPEN THIS LINK IF YOU HAVEN’T READ BLOOD FOR BLOOD)

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However, this doesn’t change the fact that I’m still in mourning and want an alternate ending. The hurt I feel is kind of irreparable at this point. So I’m sorry to reveal that I’m that annoying (and butthurt) reader that docked off stars because I didn’t get the ending I wanted. But I do have my reasons for being so salty and unforgiving:

There have been countless of other books where main characters have died (I’m not going to name them for spoilers sake), but I could reason the authors’ decisions despite my heartbreak. This time I could not. Mainly because these characters deserved a happily ever after more than anyone. It’s not like Yael hasn’t lost enough already, and Luka still had so much to live for because he was so young. (Also, I was extremely unpleased that Luka’s body was just left there even with the circumstances considered. That’s too tragic and lonely of an ending.) It was also especially maddening that the undeserving (the Wolfe twins) found happiness instead. Ugh, I am still so disgruntled that this OTP didn’t go canon. Yael and Luka complimented each other perfectly, and I thought surely what happened to Luka would permanently break Yael. But even with all that being said, I’m relieved that Yael seemed like she was on the mend as the book digressed into its closing, and that she made the right choice with the Wolfe family in the end. That last scene with Yael and Felix exhibits mercy at one of the highest levels.

Speaking of Felix, I can’t end this review without discussing him and his role in the story. Of course, with so much bitterness in his heart I knew he wouldn’t be a likable character as he was in the first book, but I found great relief that he struggled with the choices he made. And as much as I wish he didn’t go through with the decisions he chose, I did try putting myself in his shoes. Honestly, I also think that I wouldn’t have chosen any differently or have any less of a hard time from Felix-no risks would be taken if I knew my dad’s life was on the line. Fear can be a nasty, controlling emotion that blinds us from seeing the truth.

Anyhow, I’m really conflicted with this rating; it has fluctuated all over the place since I’ve last put down the book. In regards to entertainment, Blood for Blood wasn’t really short of anything that I hoped it’d be. It kept me on my toes after the abundance of twists and I remained engaged until the very end. (Lois can attest to this because I truly flew through this. I was a terrible buddy reading partner.) The intense action and plot twists were definitely this book’s strengths. However, I did decide to knock off half a star because I did find the lengthier descriptions weren’t exactly for me at times, despite the fact I was on a roll with my reading speed and liked the action. I can imagine those moments would drag for some readers, too. And as previously confessed, I’m going to deduct a whole star because of the ending as fickle as that sounds. (Reading this book after Crooked Kingdom was not a smart move.) But the problems I had, doesn’t change the fact that I really felt for the characters and loved this sequel. So I think it’s safe to say that this’ll be a satisfying conclusion for most Wolf by Wolf fans.


Summer’s Playlist:
Wolves Without Teeth | Young Blood | Last Hope | Lay Me Down | See You Again
*the bold/underlined are must listens!

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Blog @xingsings | Instagram @readxings | Twitter @xingsings

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10 thoughts on “Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

  1. Fadwa (Word Wonders) says:

    That ending has me destroyed!! So I KNOW where you’re coming from and why you took off those stars and as much as Iwas tempted to do it because of how MAD I was I couldn’t bring myself to do it because I adore this duology. I’m still not over it though I NEED MY HAPPY ENDING!! I’m still praying for it to be a cruel prank haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Ah, I’m relived that you share my sentiments, Fadwa! That ending was both sad and frustrating. I couldn’t remain objective as a reviewer after witnessing such a shocking event so… And right? We need a novella that at least tells me Yael is doing better or that she’s living a happy life for the both of them. :’)

      Like

  2. Lois says:

    I am forever bitter about that ending. I simply refuse to accept it. I could easily go on another rant about how he deserved to live and that we didn’t need another martyr but it just makes me so sad to see a character that deserved to live in this new world with Yael be brutally taken away. I’d have been much happier if he was badly wounded but eventually made a recovery and if not that then give me a proper burial. It’s going to take a long while for me to recover from this because he well and truly captured my heart.

    Besides that I really loved the book and Yael will always be one of my favourite characters. Her resilience was so inspiring.

    Felix. Oh Felix. I know he’s not a bad guy and given the circumstances I would have done the same but it just goes to show how fear can take it’s hold on someone and how people manipulate that fear. I’m just sad that the consequences of his actions meant another blow to Yael’s own family and I’m especially bitter that the Wolfe’s got their happy ending.

    I feel like my own review is going to turn into a very lengthy rant. I’m still conflicted about my rating because as a story it’s amazing but emotionally I’m not satisfied.

    You are also forgiven for the speedy reading. It’s such an addictive read haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      I 100% support the alternative fate/ending you’ve suggested for Luka. /sniffles/

      Also, does it make me sound cruel that I feel like Felix was let off easy? I know his fingers got crushed, which I imagine was excruciating, but he still survived in the end. But another part of me also feels sympathetic, and I can see why Graudin didn’t want to kill off to many “good” people. And Felix did have a good character despite choosing the wrong decisions. And what about the real Adele?? She barely experienced any hardships. And then she gets the HEA with her family. Like no. (I guess I’m still bitter, too.)

      The feels were very intense (then again when have we read a title together that hasn’t been intense?), so I can see why you’ve held off from writing your review.

      Anyway, I cannot wait for our next buddy read! How about A Conjuring of Light next? I’ll be better and not speed my way through. Promise. But somehow I get the feeling you’ll be the one that I need to catch up to if we do decide to read that one together, haha. 😄

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lois says:

        Oh Adele, how she infuriated me. The only Adele moment I actually liked was the closure Luka got, other than that I felt nothing for her.

        I am so down for A Conjuring of Light buddy read. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy and the gang will be on hand to mark all my fuzzy feels moments.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Becca @ Becca and Books says:

    HAHAHA THE ENDING IS FAKE. HAHAHA. FAKE. RYAN GRAUDIN WAS JUST KIDDING. HAHAHA. SO FUNNY.
    Luka’s character development flew so far past just his old charming self IT WAS SO GOOD. So delightfully REAL.
    Felix..I had hope for him! HE BETRAYED ME.
    I have so many emotions! Ah! Thank you for this passionate review, and for coaxing that apology out of Ryan. We need it 😉

    Like

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