This is another book which features on my book challenge lists and is one I have read previously that I decided to revisit in order to review it.
This is the blurb bit and I have decided to cheat and use the Goodreads descriptions so I can just concentrate on what I personally think of the books rather than do the whole talking through the basic plot bit which as you will see for this book is anything but simple.
Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.
Don’t let the ease of reading fool you – Vonnegut’s isn’t a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, “There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters.”
Slaughterhouse-Five is not only Vonnegut’s most powerful book, it is also as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch- 22, it fashions the author’s experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut’s other works, but the book’s basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy – and humor.
The first time I read this was before I tackled a Time Travellers Wife, and after rereading it I am now even more convinced that this inspired that book. The concept of time travel is one I am of course familiar with after all as a huge Sci-Fi fan and more specifically a Doctor Who fan the idea of time travel is a basic staple but this book differed from any I had read before in that it did not tell the story sequentially in the way you would expect. The problem is that the way this book randomly jumps between different times is it makes it incredibly hard to keep up with. This is not a beach read or a book you can pick up and put down, it requires a degree of concentration to keep the story straight in your head.
I also have one major issue with this book which effects the mark I give it which is the portrayal of the female characters. While the book is witty, the story lines imaginative the female characters are nothing more than the worse stereoptypes possible which is a real shame, admittedly it is written for a different generation who may not have found this as problematic as the modern reader.
I find I can only give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars because of the failings I have mentioned which is a shame because other than that I enjoyed it.
One thought on “Book Review – Slaughterhouse-Five By Kurt Vonnegut”
A fair review based on today’s female readers who would expect to feature more prominently as characters in their own right and not as mere adjuncts of men.
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