Friday, January 27, 2017
Message to Adolf #2
First sentence: Mama, today I killed people.
Premise/plot: The second half of Message to Adolf begins with a letter of 'confession' from Adolf Kaufman to his Japanese mother. This book sees us through World War II and beyond. If there is a main character, it is Sohei Toge. But really there are dozens of characters. All falling somewhere between extremes. Good and evil. Sane and insane. Smart and stupid.
My thoughts: This will cover my thoughts on both books. I can understand that it would be really difficult to read a graphic novel that was 1200+ pages, so it had to be broken up into parts. But there is one story, not two.
Did I like the characters? Not really. I think perhaps with the exception of one or two characters--mainly the women characters--every character made big mistakes. It feels wrong to call these ethical slips, "big mistakes" when we're talking about things like rape, beating up women, and murder. It's not just the "bad guys" that are committing these crimes. But the good guys too. Even the main character--in the first book. My favorite characters were probably Mrs. Kaufman and Mrs. Kamil. One woman ended up running a restaurant and marrying the 'hero' Sehei Toge. The other was a Jewish baker.
Did I like the story or the action? Again the answer is not really. The story is very brutal and violent. This is expected in part. Japan and Germany were at war with the world. I did not expect the Nazis to be portrayed as "nice." The book depicts the casualness, the nothingness, of murder felt by the Nazis. What I wasn't really expecting to see depicted in both books was rape. Two main characters (Adolf Kaufman and Sohei Toge) essentially RAPE women and get away with it for the most part. They never once think, hey, what I did was wrong. While Kaufman really never recovers his boyish innocence--once he joins the Hitler Youth, it's over for him--Toge essentially is depicted as a great guy, the hero we all should be cheering for.
As I mentioned, murder is all too commonly depicted in these books. Because of the brutal violence (scenes of torture, rape, murder, physical abuse) and the sex scenes (some consensual, some definitely NOT) this is definitely an ADULT book.
What was the message of the book? I'm not sure. During the war, the tension (in the plot) came from people wanting to reveal "secrets" that could destroy Hitler and "end the war" and those wanting to protect Hitler and destroy the secret documents and kill anyone who had seen them.
I am sure there is some significance to the book being titled Message to Adolf, but, I'm not quite sure I can guess the author's intent fully. It's easy--for me--to conclude that WAR IS UGLY AND BRUTAL AND MAKES YOU DO HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE THINGS TO OTHER HUMAN BEINGS. But was that the author's message?
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews