Synopsis: 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?
I WAS SUPPOSED TO LOVE THIS BOOK. It hurt my heart how much I didn’t like it. (Or that pain might have been from this GROSS ROMANCE.)
The whole book dripped with that trope of emotionless/very strong characters (who always call themselves monsters) becoming, like, empathetic to human life. (Sidenote: what does it say about me that I can’t stand that plotline? It’s really synonymous with “these characters will be presented as badasses but will actually be full-on dumb.”) Yet through this attempt at a handful of characters becoming teeth-achingly sweet and caring all at once (their dumbass yucky relationships almost gave me a cavity), there’s very little concrete character development. Yael and Luka’s romance is stupid—and based on nothing of substance. And both of them are stupid alone, making dumb decisions like going against four gun-and-knife-wielding soldiers or yelling at an unseen figure. I was worried about the saccharine romance by page 45, and I was right to be.
I don’t mind romance subplots in a lot of books. Maybe even in most books. But I do NOT want to read 500 pages of formerly badass characters becoming stupid piles of blubbering lovesickness because they got cooties from the hot enemy. No, thank you.
Despite the fact that the stakes legitimately could not be higher, everything feels pretty chill all the time. At one point—this is a teeny spoiler, sorry—two Jewish (albeit shapeshifted) characters walk into a concentration camp, into the most high-security area of the prison, into the office of the director who ruined their lives, take a ton of said dude’s files, generally F up his office, answer the phone as him and talk to one of the highest-ranking members of the Third Reich, leave the office, see the guy who ruined their lives, get a teensy bit triggered and leave the camp—all without ever being stopped or so much as looked at. Like, what? That’s not action! Not everything can go right all the time in an adventure book! (That goes for you, too, first 95% of Crooked Kingdom.)
Motivations were silly and a lot of things just…didn’t add up. Here’s a list of stupid decisions made by characters we were supposed to see as smart within the first fifty pages: walked straight into a soldier’s trap, yelled out at an unseen figure while in hiding, tried to rescue an irrelevant from four armed men, left a person who could ID a tattoo (literally the only identifiable part of her) in the actual house of the SS.
The way this was written was also driving me bonkers. Now introducing: bullet points! As in, there are so many little things I have to talk about in this section that I can’t be bothered to write in full sentences! And that says a lot because I’m an English major!
- Teeming with unnecessary, interjected, nonsensical German words (if I never see the word Scheisse again it’ll be too soon)
- Talked about how bad Luka’s jacked smelled all. The. Time?
- In one chapter, started translating basic sentences out of “Luka-speak”?
- In general tried so hard to make Luka a funny, sassy, hot character (potential motive: trying to get on Bookstagram’s myriad “book boyfriend” tags)
- “If her flesh had been schnitzel, it would’ve been long finished, ready for the skillet”
- “He had…feelings…when he was with her”
- Book has interludes (which wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t just read The Library at Mount Char, which actually used this tactic in a way that added to the book instead of feeling goddamn pointless)
This was my most anticipated book of 2016. I’m crushed at how little enjoyment I got out of it, and my strong dislike of this combined with how I had to DNF The Walled City makes me scared I’m misremembering Wolf by Wolf. I want to believe that book was good, genuinely. And I liked the last page. So—
Bottom line: this book was difficult to get through, but I’m giving it two stars—for the sake of its predecessor and on the merit of its final words.