Review: Mischling

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Review for "Mischling" by Affinity Konar (2016)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

First off, let me say that I’ve read a lot of Holocaust stories. This particular one sounded as if it would venture into a different territory, so I placed it on my reading list as soon as it came out. Dr. Mengele, the infamous Auschwitz “Angel of Death” was known for sending millions to the gas chambers, as well as his cruel, torturous ‘experiments’ on prisoners, identical twins, and multiples with no regard to the health or safety of his subjects. Mischling is the story of 13-year-old twin girls, Pearl and Stasha, who arrive at Auschwitz in 1944. Each twin narrates an alternating chapter, filling the reader in on the horrifying details of life inside of Mengele’s “zoo.”

I did not care for this book. The writing is not bad, but it failed to suit this story and make a real emotional impact here. Instead of a groundbreaking Holocaust story, what we get is a familiar and predictable story of this time in history that doesn’t really rise above the standard Auschwitz account. What I mean by that is that you don’t really learn anything new here other than what you already learned about the Holocaust in middle school: the separation of families, the gas chambers, heavy work and starvation, etc. Mengele’s experiments (the info I really wanted to know) through the experiences of the narrators are discussed, but the author relies heavily on metaphor to describe these events. While there’s nothing wrong with metaphor, the story got lost and it disengaged me from the novel and left me completely confused.

I regret finishing this book, as I would have DNF’d it a long time ago if it had not been for my curiosity about the end. I would have preferred a much simpler prose style here.

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