Review: Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

Blood for Blood by Ryan GraudinBlood for Blood
Ryan Graudin
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Published November 1st, 2016

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About Blood for Blood

There would be blood. Blood for blood. Blood to pay. An entire world of it.

For the resistance in the Third Reich, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun. Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against Hitler’s army, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But in the midst of the chaos, Yael’s past and future collide when she comes face to face with a ghost from her past, and a spark with a fellow rider begins to grow into something more. Dark secrets reveal dark truths and one question hangs over them all—how far can you go for the ones you love?

My Review

Since Wolf by Wolf was such an amazing novel, I was very curious to see how the sequel compared. Though still being a very engaging book, I found it to be much darker than its predecessor (which is saying something, considering the content and plot of the first). Graphic and disturbing violence–along with more and more deaths–lead me to recommend this book to more mature teens (though those on the sensitive side will want to skip this one).

In the first book, the narrative switched between Yael’s past and present. This style of story telling was a bit confusing at times, and becomes more so in the sequel, as we are no longer firmly rooted in Yael’s point of view. Several of the other main characters share the stage and we witness several scenes from inside their head instead of Yael’s. While I did appreciate getting to learn more about the other characters, I felt like it disconnected the reader from Yael. It was harder to engage with her character in this book than it was in the first.

Something I again appreciated in this book was how the author kept Yael’s humanity intact. Yael experiences horrific things in the course of her journey, and yet still retains her sensitivity and conscience. Yael is not a heartless assassin, as is becoming more common in YA literature. Instead, she is a human being that has lived through and been forced to commit atrocities without letting her light go out. She still has a heart, and that was beautiful–if sometimes painful–to see.

Overall, I’m rating Blood for Blood 4 stars out 5. After reading Wolf by Wolf, I couldn’t wait to see what happened to Yael and her friends as they sifted through the aftermath of the conflict in the first book, and Blood for Blood did a great job of keeping that tension going. However, it contains considerably more graphic/disturbing violence than the first book, causing me to deduct one star from my rating. If you love reading high-stakes action books or thrilling revolution novels, then consider picking up Blood for Blood and its precursor for one wild, heart-breaking story from beginning to end.

Wolf by Wolf on AmazonRecommended for Ages
 16 up.

Cultural Elements
The main characters are from Germania. Several characters are of Jewish descent. Some of the side characters are from Soviet Russia. Those of Aryan race (pale skin, blue eyes, blond hair) are given special status under the Third Reich. Non-Aryans are often considered less than human. One mention that the victims of concentration camps include homosexuals.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Frequent cursing in German.

Romance/Sexual Content
One kiss, not described in depth.  

Spiritual Content
One character prays in Yiddish to God. Memories of observing the Passover. Mentions of Norse mythology. God’s name is used for emphasis in phrases (“God knows,” “act of God,” “For God’s sake,” etc). Attempts at remembering how to observe Shabbat and other Jewish practices.

Violent Content
Death again plays a big part in this story, and the author doesn’t pull any punches. Another assassination, victims of concentration camps, and other deaths hit close to home for Yael. Disturbing medical procedures are also performed, and their aftereffects are not pleasant. Graphic torture (and mangling of limbs) is also included.

Drug Content
Characters use morphine for pain relief. Some characters smoke, though this is presented in a negative light.

Wolf by Wolf on Goodreads


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