Home » Review » Look Who’s Back By Timur Vernes: Poking Fun At Hitler

Look Who’s Back By Timur Vernes: Poking Fun At Hitler

I’d seen a lot of hype about Look Who’s Back on Instagram so when I finally walked past it in Foyles, I had to buy it. Translated from German, Look Who’s Back is the story of a world in which Hitler exists again. Hitler wakes up in 2011, having inexplicably time travelled from the 1940s. He has no recollection of the end of the war and is incredibly confused by modern Berlin. He is recognised instantly by those he crosses but nobody takes him seriously and they think his political rants are all a joke. It’s not long before he’s a YouTube star with his own television programme and a worrying number of fans.

Timur Vernes presents readers with a satirical story that tackles the most taboo of subjects: Adolf Hitler. He has created a character who is absolutely ridiculous, downright hilarious at times, that somehow manages to turn himself into a celebrity. Whilst most of the things that Hitler says are outrageous, some of the comments he makes about modern society are shockingly accurate and force you to take a step back and reconsider today’s world. Obviously Hitler doesn’t understand modern technology or society and this lack of comprehension means that he gives us a fresh perspective on items and customs that we are all very familiar with today. The world as a whole is obsessed with the internet, social media and celebrities and these are all important themes in Look Who’s Back.

Something to note is that it is incredibly difficult to translate humour. As a languages student who is currently living abroad, I can tell you that it is so difficult to convey something funny in another language and a different culture. This book has you sniggering at Hitler’s confusion in the modern world and his comments about society and different cultures are nothing short of hilarious. There is a very fine line between something being humourous and inappropriate but Vernes has tread carefully and is on the right side of funny. A lot of credit must also go to the translator, Jamie Bulloch, who helped bringed this story to life in English.

Whilst many have criticised Vernes for writing what they deem to be a completely inappropriate and insensitive book, he has touched upon something very real. Take for example, the recent election in the UK. Many people think that Nigel Farage (UKIP) is an idiot and that his policies are extreme, and yet in the end he managed to gather 2 million British votes. This is but just one example of how dangerous ‘ridiculous’ people can be once they’re put into a position of power.

This book is more about making people think and exploring ideas rather than plot. Hitler’s mysterious appearance in the twenty-first century is never explained. When I finished reading this book, I couldn’t help but feel that it was a little unfinished. I wanted to know more and instead leaving us with a cliffhanger, I felt we had an unfinished story. Vernes creates a fantastic character and his story is all set up very well, but I think it needed to go a little deeper. Having read the blurb of the book, there were no major plot twists or shocking events, which I think were needed for that extra umph.

All in all, I was slightly disappointed in Look Who’s Back. There was simply too much hype about this book which inevitably created very high expectations and unfortunately it didn’t quite reach them. The idea behind this story is very original and it raises some interesting (and important) questions about the role of social media in society and how dangerous it can be; however, I think the story needed more than just an original idea. That said, I still think this is a very important book and is one that should be read by all. The idea that someone like Hitler could rise again in modern society through ‘jokes’ and manipulation of social media is a very worrying thought. More and more YouTube celebrities are being made each year and young people are starting to look up to them. Arguably, these people have more power than say actors or singers, because they are marketed as ‘real’ people, and should they abuse that power, there could be serious repercussions. For those interested in history and politics, or just original thinking, this is still well worth a read.

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Laura is a culture and travel blogger based in London. She studied French at Oxford University and now studies Law in London. She’s an avid reader and traveller and loves to combine the two with literary travel. Find her tips and reviews on the best reads, eats and destinations on whatshotblog.com.

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  1. 20th October 2015 / 12:49 AM

    Not read this, looks good. I will read a sample first though.

    • 20th October 2015 / 2:37 PM

      Please do! It’s very different to anything I’ve ever read before

  2. 20th October 2015 / 1:00 AM

    haha this sounds well interesting! I have never heard of it before but your review really intrigued me 🙂

  3. Chelsea Coulter
    20th October 2015 / 12:53 AM

    Not read or heard of this book, sounds like a good read

  4. Laura
    20th October 2015 / 1:45 AM

    Shame you were disappointed by the book, its annoying when a novel doesn’t live up to the hype! xxx

    • 20th October 2015 / 2:51 PM

      I know :/ I always try to avoid it but it’s so difficult with social media!

  5. Tori Gabriel
    20th October 2015 / 7:59 AM

    This sounds like a very interesting novel. I willbhave to check it out at the library.

    Weirdly, I have said the same thing about Farage. “Lots of decent people thought Hitler had the right idea to begi with”.

  6. Ickle Pickle
    20th October 2015 / 1:55 PM

    Oh gosh, what a concept! It is a very taboo subject I think _ i am not sure whether to be amused or horrified! Kaz x

  7. 20th October 2015 / 3:19 PM

    This sounds like a really interesting read. It’s good to know that the author has tread the right side of funny rather than shocking etc.

  8. Beautyqueenuk
    20th October 2015 / 3:48 PM

    Any mention of Hitler anywhere ultimately draws criticism and outrage and to me, this book sounds quite fascinating x

  9. 20th October 2015 / 5:49 PM

    Oh this looks great! I’m always looking for new books to read and the Hitler one looks like it’d be right up my street, thank you for reviewing!

  10. Rachael Phillips
    20th October 2015 / 5:09 PM

    this is the kind of book that’s right up my street. thanks so much for reviewing it, i’m going to give it a whirl!

  11. 20th October 2015 / 8:51 PM

    Oh this looks/sounds like an interesting read! I need to get back into reading!

  12. 20th October 2015 / 9:37 PM

    This seems like an interesting read and one to add to my growing list of books to read this winter 🙂

  13. 20th October 2015 / 10:14 PM

    Hitler in the modern world now that is a narrative that I would be interested to explore, what a refreshing read.

  14. Renna Creighton
    20th October 2015 / 10:47 PM

    Interesting…. I think the world has plenty of new versions of Hitlers and definitely wannabee Hitlers. Very dangerous people out there!!

  15. Emma-Jane Page
    21st October 2015 / 12:06 AM

    Such an interesting concept for a book. It’s a subject my daughter has been exploring at school. How Hitler’s propaganda would work in today’s world.

  16. 21st October 2015 / 8:36 AM

    This sounds really interesting, I think I’m going to add it to my reading list. I’m not too keen on books that are left unfinished, but this sounds so original that I want to read it anyway. Agree with you about translating novels as well, a good translator makes a huge difference!

  17. Claire Ridewood
    21st October 2015 / 9:08 AM

    Sounds like a very interesting read

  18. raine_hp
    21st October 2015 / 10:38 AM

    I like the sound of that book, an interesting read for sure.

  19. 21st October 2015 / 6:50 PM

    It definitely sounds like an interesting read, I might have to check it out. x

  20. Kacie Morgan
    22nd October 2015 / 12:10 AM

    Looks pretty interesting! The front cover is very artsy too.

  21. Lina
    22nd October 2015 / 2:38 AM

    I have obviously missed the hype about this book but it sounds really interesting!

  22. bericebaby
    23rd October 2015 / 12:22 AM

    Hmmm my OH actually told me about this book but i can’t stand the man so I switched off when he told me about it. Maybe I should have listened LOL. I will defo look into it. Charlotte x

  23. Barbara Handley
    12th November 2015 / 10:41 PM

    Not to every one’s taste but it sounds very intriguing. I am surprised I have not come across this book before.

  24. Little Steps
    22nd September 2016 / 9:58 PM

    You’ve just piqued my interest. Would love to read this too and you are so right about the humour lost in translation. I’m putting this on my book list.

  25. Joanna
    22nd September 2016 / 10:11 PM

    I’ve not heard of this book before I must have missed out on the hype about it. It definitely sounds an interesting read.

  26. 22nd September 2016 / 10:54 PM

    This is a great review. I’ve not heard of the book and I’d love to read it. But how disappointing that it didn’t take the idea as far as it could have. Have you read Making History by Stephen Fry? It talks about Hitler’s parents (as part of a bigger, highly amusing story) and it’s fascinating. You’re so right to say how scary it is to think that people are easy to dismiss Hitler’s ideals when Farage had such a following. Ugh. Great review.

    • Jess Helicopter
      22nd September 2016 / 10:54 PM

      Sorry I repeated myself there. Shows how much i agreed with you! 😀

  27. Tania Potter
    23rd September 2016 / 8:01 AM

    The author is very brave to use Hitler, my word, it’s a bit uncomfortable just thinking about it! It sounds like a brilliant idea and well worth reading.

  28. lexhan
    23rd September 2016 / 8:12 AM

    Not much of a book fan but this sounds brilliant enough, and the Hitler thing is brave.

  29. Mai C.
    23rd September 2016 / 9:05 AM

    I am fascinated with the World War II especially that bit on Hitler himself so this book is definitely interesting for me. I wouldn’t mind the missing explanations, I just want to see what it’s all about.

  30. 23rd September 2016 / 2:28 PM

    I would love to read this book. I like to read about Hitler and the war.

  31. tp keane
    23rd September 2016 / 3:08 PM

    what a chilling thought, Hitler being back. I’ll have to pick it up

  32. Kara
    23rd September 2016 / 4:31 PM

    This sounds like a book my husband would enjoy, we have just watched a TV series along a similar vein

  33. Imogen Clegg
    23rd September 2016 / 4:39 PM

    this sounds like such a funny book to read! What a thought…

  34. Evelina Vilke
    23rd September 2016 / 9:25 PM

    Adding it to my to read list!

  35. Beautyqueenuk
    24th September 2016 / 10:58 AM

    Well this is totally different sounding to anything else that I have ever read x

  36. Clairejustineo
    24th September 2016 / 1:34 PM

    Sounds interesting, I need to read more books 🙂

  37. Melanie Edjourian
    24th September 2016 / 5:07 PM

    I think my hubby would be interested to read this, thanks for sharing. I’ll try and remember to get him a copy.

  38. Rosie Heather Roman
    25th September 2016 / 2:52 PM

    This sounds like a very interesting book, I’d love to know what other comments were made about today’s society. Thanks for sharing.

  39. Jessica
    26th September 2016 / 3:28 PM

    Too bad you were a bit disappointed. The politics and history themes will make me want to read it though.

  40. Anvita - TheBellyRulesTheMind
    26th September 2016 / 9:09 PM

    Sounds like a good book. I wish I had more time to read

  41. 26th September 2016 / 9:42 PM

    I love this kind of books, would definitely read it, it seems very interesting. x

  42. Kristen Carlson
    27th September 2016 / 12:28 AM

    Sounds like an interesting read. Will have to check it out!

  43. Ami Rose
    27th September 2016 / 3:25 PM

    Sounds like a really interesting read. Currently reading Me Before You and wondering what to pick up next.

    Ami xxx

  44. 29th September 2016 / 12:06 PM

    OH another one! I am so happy to have found a literary blogger. You can literally just keep adding reads to my list as I adore books 🙂

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