I thought this book was interesting, though messy at points, obviously, as it jumped around quite a bit in its chronology. I thought it made a bold statement about the state of a country during its dictatorship, as all of the other dictator novels have. The character Egghead emobies the idea that though people are not stupid or unaware of what's occuring in their country and their government, they are forced to turn a blind eye to what's happening and specifically, in this book, to Trujillo's insanities. The people can't really make a stand against their leader, for fear of torture and/or death, and knowing what horrifying acts are being committed won't help them in the end, it will just make them more fearful and possibly more vulnerable.
What I find with Vargas Llosa's writing is that he has many ideas and characters that are good in theory, but slightly underdeveloped. Urania feels slightly two-dimensional to me, and her story seems like a good set-up for the plot, rather than a realistic portrayal of one woman's difficult existence. The scenes with Trujillo felt more real, and he felt more real, as well.
There's a good dialogue between Trujillo and Dr. Balaguer on page 222 that really exemplifies the paranoia even within the truly sociopathic dictator personality, and the extreme devotion among a few certain parties to the lost followers: "'You don't drink, you don't smoke, you don't eat, you don't chase women, money, or power. Is that the way you really are? Or is it a strategy with a hidden agenda?' Dr. Balaguer's clean-shaven face flushed again. His soft voice did not falter when he declared: 'Ever since I met Your Excellency...my only vice has been serving you. That was when I learned that by serving Trujillo I was serving my country. That has enriched my life more than a woman, or money, or power could have done. I will never find the words to thank Your Excellency for allowing me to work at your side.'"