Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Prisoner of Night and Fog

Gretchen Müller’s father died protecting Hitler. Ever since, she has seen Adolf as an uncle figure and he has taken special care of her. She has always followed his teachings until one day, a young Jewish reporter puts doubt in her mind.

The Müller family are fictional, but implanted into real events. The events of the putsch did happen and people were killed on both sides. What’s really interesting about this, is the plot could so easily be that of our modern day dystopian YA fiction but this stuff actually happened. It’s really quite scary and I hope a few Daily Mail readers will pick this up and take note. In a time of financial hardship, it’s easy to blame people that aren’t like yourselves but that way leads to persecution and to the horrors seen in WWII. Not many people would openly agree with what the Nazi’s did but some of their early propaganda is certainly mirrored in some of the right wing views aired today. It's just different groups of people being blamed.

How much you get out of this book might depend on how much of the history you know. Most of my knowledge of WWII is more around the later years, so I found the early politics quite interesting. I did know what happened to Geli though, which might have been a bit of a spoiler, even though she isn’t a main character.

Reinhard’s character is representative of the sociopathic nature of those who supported Hitler’s plans and indeed, helped carry them out. There was plenty of pressure for people to appear supportive or to go along with everyone else, but those who really revelled in other’s suffering would have been the most dangerous. It did seem a bit tenuous for Gretchen to use her brother’s behaviour as a way to research Hitler’s mental state.

It might be surprising to some readers how Hitler starts off portrayed as just a man, not a beast. Gretchen has always seen him as the man who cared for her family after her father died, he’s her honorary uncle. But she has never done anything to defy him or be subject to his anger. As her perception of Hitler begins to change, his behaviour appears to worsen.

The mystery aspect wasn’t really needed and I found the threads of Gretchen’s story meandered a bit. She could have just befriended a Jewish boy and get into trouble for that without all the pretence at intrigue and piecing together things that seem a bit too obvious for a modern reader. I would be interested in reading the second book to see where their journey takes them. It does work entirely as a standalone novel fortunately.

Prisoner of Night and Fog is published by Headline and is available now in trade paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Also reviewed @ kimberlyfaye reads

Shelve next to: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak



Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

5 comments:

  1. Interesting! There's a spin you don't see often.

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  2. I am currently reading this one and I definitely get where you are coming from when it comes to what you get from the book and the interesting facts about WW2.

    I look forward to finding how it ends + I am gad you liked it so much! :)

    Thanks for sharing! xx

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries

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  3. "It’s really quite scary and I hope a few Daily Mail readers will pick this up and take note. In a time of financial hardship, it’s easy to blame people that aren’t like yourselves but that way leads to persecution and to the horrors seen in WWII. Not many people would openly agree with what the Nazi’s did but some of their early propaganda is certainly mirrored in some of the right wing views aired today. It's just different groups of people being blamed."

    Aaaaand that's me persuaded. Between this and Look Who's Back, Hitler seems to be very much the character of the moment in the book world... Should be interesting!

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  4. Sounds interesting, certainly, but I'm starting to get a little troubled by books like this. There seems to be this growing idea that the Nazi's and there views were a minority when they weren't. There even had a very large number of sympathizers outside of Germany, in the U.K. and in the U.S. The notion that they needed someone to tell them what was really going on so they could change their minds is comforting, but I don't think there's much truth in it.

    I'll admit that it's a complicated issue, but I wonder if we're starting to let people off the hook in ways we shouldn't, now that we're so far away from the actual events and there are so few survivors left.

    Thanks for your review. I may end up reading this one.

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    1. I don't think it really comes across like that in this book. She is taught that Jews are subhuman and doesn't question it for a long time. Her family are all pro-Hitler and there are large turn outs to the rallies. In the period it is set, it felt very much like how people blame immigrants today for all sorts of wrongs. Gretchen is in the minority.

      It seems to portray much more support for the Nazi party than The Book Thief, which might be the other sort of book you're referring to.

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