Book Review #8 – Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

Hello earthlings!

Today I bring you a review of a very very strange book. I’ll talk about Slaughterhouse Five, by the author which last name I just can’t pronounce, Kurt Vonnegut.

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I was very excited to read this since books inspired by war events really spark my interest. The author fought on the Allies side during World War II. During their time in Germany, his team was taken and made prisoners by the nazis. They worked in a town called Dresden and were kept in a building called Schlachthof-fünf (or Slaughterhouse Five). Right in the end of the war, the town was bombed, killing almost everyone. The only survivors were the americans that hid in the slaughterhouse. These life events of Vonnegut are the central point of the story, making this almost a semi-autobiographical book. It’s also considered his most influential and popular work.

The story follows Billy Pilgrim, a man who is unstuck in time.  That means he travels to any place in his timeline, whether it’s past or future. We see his time at war, his extraterrestrial experience and even his death.

The way the story is told doesn’t follow the straight line of time. We constantly jump from one year to another, and see all the major and some minor events in Billy’s life. This was very strange and confusing for almost all of the book. I wanted to know more about certain events. I wanted to know how everything really happened. When a certain moment is told in two or more parts, it took me some time to put everything together and fully understand. It’s not that the events are badly written: they are not. But a lot of things happen in the middle and your mind is too full with all the different information.

I liked a lot the way the author describes everything. He is so funny! In a way, he reminded me of Douglas Adams, the writer of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (which I also reviewed). He’s sarcastic and makes, sometimes, silly observations. It’s definitely a fun book, even though it’s mainly about such a gruesome subject as war. I loved the way that the aliens are in some very delicate ways compared to the nazis. It makes a strange and curious point. I also found very peculiar how the narrator says “So it goes” every time someone dies or there’s a mention to a death. It’s something that he picks up from the time he spends with the aliens, some weird four dimension beings with eyes in the palms of their hands.

I didn’t quite understood the book right after I finished. I felt like it was a complete mess, making absolutely no sense. And that’s mainly one of the reasons why I don’t write a review right after I finish reading a book. I like reflect on the story and do some research on them, read what others think of it. While doing that for this book, I think I finally got it. The book is not made to make any sense. It’s just like war: it’s messy, weird and unstable. After understanding this, it all seems a lot clearer.

I enjoyed the book but not quite as much as I thought I would. War themes make me excited and sad at the same time and there’s not a lot of books on the subject that I truly like, even though I read a lot of war fictions. It’s a very different time travelling and even sci-fi book. If you want to start reading american literature, I’m not sure if this is the best one to start with. But if you’re a little bit more familiar with it, it’s probably a good choice. Just keep in mind this is a VERY strange written book.

There’s something I haven’t done in past reviews (merely because I forget). Here’s one of my favourite quotes. When Billy is kidnapped by aliens, he wants to know why they choose him:

– Why me?
– That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?
– Yes.
– Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.

Thank you for reading guys! If you have read this one, please let me know what you thought in the comments bellow.

School is starting to really cram me up but I’m trying to find at least one hour or two every week to bring you a little something. Maybe the posts are smaller than usual but please be kind and understanding.

Cat.

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