Play on Expectations
One of the things that really sucked me into the novel was the set up of the characters. In most books the reader expects to start out with a character and follow them through on their journey. This different because soon after meeting Hermann we meet Alfred who is clearly the more dominating personality and the one who can view events in a more observational manner. From this point on the book starts to follow him and his views instead of Hermann which would have made sense ,since he is basically going through the most tragic experience in his life. Alfred though is the character who actually has the space to observe the world and analyze what is happening and this is due to the fact that he is not completely indoctrinated. At any rate this design of leading the reader to assume one thing and make deductions about how the course of the novel will go based on the main character gets thrown out the window almost as soon as they are formed. After being introduced to Alfred the reader has to rework their expectations from reading in the mind of someone who has faith in the system to someone who is very cynical of all that is going on. I feel like this happens several times throughout the novel and it helps to keep things interesting since otherwise, at least through chapter six, the book has largely been a telling of the history of the world rather than anything actually happening. If the reader had not had to deal with the constant shifting of focus they may have become bored with the novel.
1. Burdekin, Katharine. Swastika Night. New York: Feminist Press, 1985. Print.