Brilliant premise: Hitler won WWII and now the Third Reich covers most of the world. Death camps and terrible experiments keep going on, and one of the experiments results in people who can shift their appearance to mimic anyone. Our heroine, Yael, is one of these skinshifters. Wolf by Wolf was all about a plot to use Yael's ability to get close enough to Hitler to assassinate him. I won't spoil the ending, but suffice it to say Blood for Blood deals with the aftermath.
There's plenty of plot to go on with--nail-biting escapes, really evil villains, unexpected twists, desperate fights and terrifying sneaking into enemy territory--but these are books about character. Yael, Luka and Felix are figuring out who they are, how their history and their choices shape them. We get flashbacks to key moments in their pasts, and the narrative spends time in each of their heads, so we come to understand and care deeply about all three. The agonizing choices they each make are, well, agonizing. Each learns in their own way not to let other people define them, no matter what is done to them.
The book I thought of after finishing Blood for Blood was Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein. Yes, because the WWII setting is similar, but mostly because of the powerful theme of identity and personhood. And because of the feels. Ryan Graudin has prose that gets you right in the solar plexus.
His apology felt so small. A feathered hawk speck against a wide-world sky, suspended on wind currents.No rise, no fall, just flight without motion, hovering between them.
Nothing in Vlad's training had prepared her for this: returning to the edge of devouring, staring back at it, stepping in.I will read anything this woman writes.