Crying Forever in Blood for Blood

Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

5/5 STARS

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction [retelling: WWII], Sci-Fi
Author: Ryan Graudin
Published: November 2016
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Pages: 496 {paperback}

Originally posted on Goodreads

This review is spoiler free until I state otherwise

all time favourite award


Initial Thoughts Upon Finishing

I AM VERY NOT OKAY. Someone hold me. My heart, MY HEART IT HURTS. Ohhhh my GAHHHD. Graudin has officially destroyed my soul and I shall not be able to function at all for the rest of my life. Nope. I loved this so much and I want more – I was more, more, MORE – this woman is such a talented writer it’s not even funny. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE TISSUES/CHOCOLATE/A PILLOW WHILST READING THIS.


Blood for Blood

If you thought Wolf by Wolf was good, *scoffs*, you’ve got another thing coming your way. I’d like to start this review by saying that I didn’t get an ARC of this, just for some reason The Book Depository dispatched by copy about 2 months early. I have no idea what happened either. BUT OH WELL. I’m so glad I didn’t actually get around to reading it until about now though but I NEED TO VENT. So let’s have a nice chat about my new favourite series. Literally. This is my new favourite series, *waves Colleen Houck goodbye*.

Wolf by Wolf is the first book in this series and it follows a girl called Yael who is a Jew in hiding. The story is a retelling of World War Two . . . if Hitler had won the war, *screams in the distance*. It’s a terrifying prospect but if ever there was a human being on this planet that could pull this off, it’s Graudin. The story is filled with dramas, tensions, and adventures as Yael participates in an annual motorbike race, the Axis Tour, originally meant for men only to with an Iron Cross. In this Hitler-y world, it’s all about being the best Aryan and proving you’re strong and worthy. This race embodies that.

Blood for Blood picks straight up where we left off after the conclusion of book one. SO.

If you haven’t read Wolf by Wolf yet, then leave! Skip down to the Summary! Or you’re about to get spoiled!

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OKAY. So this book literally takes off from the same second as the ending of book one. Yael has just killed Hitler-who-was-not-Hitler and now she’s on the run. Luka is wallowing in self pity and confusion because it’s very confusing when you develop a crush and get let down twice by the same girl (who’s not really the same girl). *confused brain*

The story develops HUGELY from that of the first book and we follow a certain band of characters as they try to get out of the chaos inspired from the world thinking they just saw the Führer just get killed. Yael is as a badass as ever and I won’t tell you who she’s travelling with, that you’ll have to find out.

The story is amazingly believable (apart from the sci-fi elements of Yael face-changing) and almost exactly what I’d’ve expected Hitler to have done to the world. It’s ridiculously scary from this perspective because you can actually see how this could’ve happened. The cruelty inflicted by the SS troops is insane and the characters really do have one heck of an ordeal to get through.

I cannot recommend this book enough – and it’s a lovely long story as well so it’s not all over too quickly. Although, it still ended all too soon (AND PAINFULLY) for me. This has now claimed the spot for my all-time favourite series – not just one of my favourites, THE favourite. Expect to see me rereading this and crying obsessively. It is the perfect historical retelling with character you’ll love aggressively and plot twists that physically hurt. I can’t believe the journey is over.


Before You Start . . .

One thing I need to advise you to do before jumping into this one, is to read the novella. Earlier this year, a 100-page novella was released, Iron to Iron, (and just about no-one talked about it, WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?) and it was insane. Firstly, it was long for a novella, almost another book. Secondly, it tells the story of the first race from Luka’s perspective so FINALLY you know what went down between him and Adele. It’s the story we’d been waiting for with baited breath. So if you haven’t read that yet, do yourself a favour and read it.

Why? Because you’re going to enjoy and appreciate this story so much better if you properly understand Luka’s character, for he features quite heavily. If you can’t get your hands on a copy of this, don’t fret. There are plenty of moments when we get back stories for all the concerned characters but reading the novella is definitely the best way to enhance your reading of this.


Why This Series is the Best Thing You’ll Ever Read

This book is astounding. I have never read a piece of literature so profoundly perfect and thought-provoking. It truly is a horror to think how these things could’ve happened and it makes me want to weep. The characters are so complicated, especially people like Luka who are going through a journey of self-discovery and finally realising the lies they have been fed growing up as Aryan Germans.

Even if you’re not familiar with the history (shame on you) you can totally still enjoy this. Whilst the focus of the story is on exploring the “what if” of if Hitler had won the war, it is first and foremost a Young Adult fiction novel so full with adventure and action that it’s spilling everywhere like that cup of tea you accidentally over-filled that one time.

It also has a beautiful cover. So apart from trying to marry and be-friend all the characters you’ll probably consider dating the cover at least once, too.


Character Traumas

The characters and their traumas are definitely the best thing in this book. I think I may start sobbing all over my keys in a second. There are a bunch of twists and turns that you really didn’t see coming and the character growth is insane. I feel really satisfied in regards to Yael in particular because this is the book where we really get to see what she’s capable of now that she’s no longer pretending to be someone else.

Both friendship and romance interests are abound in this book and you’ll certainly come to realise why family is so important to you after reading it. I think the book is amazing to making you think how far you’d go for your family. For your friends. For you people. For strangers.

There were certainly plenty of times throughout the book where I caught myself feeling like I wouldn’t go as far as Yael. I don’t think I’d have the mental strength to be knocked down so many times and keep getting back up. Especially with the ending. OH THE ENDING.

If you haven’t read the book – don’t read the next section! SPOILERS.

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Spoilers/Why I’m Dead

Ahem. *SOBS LOUDLY, MUCH SNOT, MUCH FEELS*. Someone hold me. My Luka, MY LUKA. HOW COULD YOU GRAUDIN, HOW COULD YOU? I will never be okay. This is like Rudy all over again – BUT WORSE BECAUSE LUKA, MY DARLING, *wails.*

Luka was such a special character. He goes through such an amazing transformation and whilst he’s trying to work out who he is and what he’s living for it just BREAKS YOU DAMN HEART. His decision to follow Yael because he loves her even if he doesn’t know it at first is beautiful. The fact that he refuses to say that she’s the reason he’s come along is beautiful too. I love how precious he acts and how he can’t deal with real emotions and seriousness, how he hides behind his words and covers up his unhappy childhood and desperation to please his dad. It breaks my heart. Nope, nope I can’t do this.

I’m totally fine right now. Totally.

When he finally understands what was going on in the concentration camps, and what happened to Yael and others and has his little break down, I died. Flatlined. Dead. Can’t deal. He discards his dad’s jacket and dog tag and let’s it all out. OH MY GOD THIS SCENE. Far out.

It was so raw and emotionally charged. I could feels those feels right along with him as he realises everything he’s been brought up to be and wanted to be, is a lie. A cruel vicious lie that makes him a terrible person. When he realises that his dad, whom he’s looked up to his whole life, is actually the bad guy in this story. Oh boy, it really did destroy me.

What I really loved was his final kiss with Yael that was so full of pent up emotions. DAMNIT, GRAUDIN, THEY SHOULD’VE HAD ETERNITY TOGETHER. *more ugly crying*. Luka needs an award for having the most dramatic character transformation. It’s the way he takes all of this in and immediately is willing to give his life to make these people’s life worth something. ALKDJS;GAROIN

When he stands there in front of the SS troops ready to lay down his life to get his speech across, I suddenly knew what was coming. I honestly thought that Yael would die in this book. I thought that if Yael died, Luka would too. BUT FUCKING NOPE. Excuse my French. SHE KILLS LUKA. SHE KILLED MY DARLING. MY SWEET, SWEET LUKA. ALL GONE. GONE FOREVER. SOMEONE HOLD ME.

The way that he was willing to do this for the sake of those who had died painfully at the cruelty of men like his father, was beautiful. It is THE most poignant character death packed with meaning and whilst I’m really (really, really) angry with Graudin, I accept it and see it as beautiful if soul-destroying.

Also, GOD DAMNIT FELIX. I am so angry. I have never yelled (literally) so much at a book in my life. Felix and his damn stupidness thinking that Hitler’s men really had his family. PUH-LEASE. The fact that he destroyed every remaining piece of happiness for Yael was unbelievable. And I have never been more proud of a character when she came back to him, not to kill him, but to reunite him with his family. She is so special and amazing. I definitely could not have got up and kept going after seeing Luka fall. Oh god, I can’t deal. I can’t deal with the fact he’s gone.

The plot twist with Miriam was amazing and I’m so glad she came back into the story. I’m also so proud of her for her clever thinking to get out of the situation that Felix stupidly created, so pat on the back for her. And we’re not even going to talk about the other character deaths or I really will not be able to continue righting this for the tears.

IT’S LIKE GOD DAMN TANGLED ALL OVER AGAIN.

AND FINALLY (you’re nearly there now), the plot twist with Hitler having been dead all along. This was ridiculously clever. I didn’t see it coming in a million and one years. I was floored. It makes so much sense and I like how that redeemed Aaron’s death.


Sob-Filled Summary

Argh. So many feels. So much hurt. This book and series was incredible. You just need, have to read it. You will love it to pieces and holy gods please read this sequel. You will be more than blown away. I challenge you to not love it. I CHALLENGE YOU TO NOT FALL APART. Graudin you are a genius and if you ever stop writing books I will personally come and find you to force you to write more. I need more, *cries forever*.

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// GOODREADS //

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 You might also like . . .

If you like books that well and truly reduce your to tears, The Book Thief is for you.

If you like more history and less fiction, The Butterfly and the Violin is for you.

If you like historical retellings, Front Lines is for you.


 Have you read this? Shall we scream together?

Share your thoughts below!


End Note

~~ Kirstie ~~

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2 thoughts on “Crying Forever in Blood for Blood

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