2 out of 4 stars
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Insanity has interested and confounded scientists and doctors for centuries. Even in the present day, experts study mental illness to provide relief to those who may suffer from it. However, not all who were interested in the inner workings of the mind had good intentions. The Holocaust of World War II revealed some of the most twisted and evil human beings in the history of the world. The millions of Jews marching to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps became nothing more than prime material for human experimentation for Josef Mengele.
Mengele is famous for his torturous human experiments, and Vicarious Intruders by J.M. Rodriguez Jr. attempts to interpret the mental state of Mengele's victims. This story begins with Jerry, a man who is grossly dissatisfied with his life. He is seriously considering taking his own life when he discovers a message in a bottle, and that message forces him to reconsider his actions. About two-thirds of the book details the contents of the message, and it tells a story that I could not finish in one sitting due to its disturbing and graphic nature. It is written by Jerome Mengele, the son of the notorious doctor, and it spells out the horror that the boy experiences at the hands of his family once his father passes away.
This is not a book that you can read while multitasking, to say the least. Because it digs deeply into the subject of insanity due to environmental factors, the language and imagery can be dense and very confusing. While I did enjoy the book's premise, I had a hard time keeping up with the rapidly changing abstract concepts. I also didn't quite buy the message's language, in that it seemed far too complex for a ten-year-old to have used.
On the other hand, the storyline delves into the backgrounds of several famous serial killers, which gives the book some relevance to popular interests of the present day. The idea that Josef Mengele could have been the mastermind behind some of the most notorious criminals that are still alive today isn't terribly far-fetched. This premise also introduces a bit of humanity to these murderers, in that it removes quite a bit of their agency and places it on the shoulders of Mengele.
The ideas behind this book are solid and beautifully executed, but the finished product lacked polish. Because the language is already so dense, typographical errors are incredibly distracting. Skipped words and careless punctuation littered the pages. Due to the mistakes and the difficult-to-dissect language, I am giving this book a rating of 2 out of 4 stars. A moderate amount of strong language is included, but there is very little in the way of sexual material. I would only recommend this book to mature readers who will not be triggered by graphic scenes of torture and gore.
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