Review: Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five cover

SYNOPSIS: 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.” – via Goodreads

GRADE 7I have been meaning to read this book for forever. Not only this book, I guess, but anything from Vonnegut, and I can finally say that I have ticked something off of my list. It was good, too. Weird, strange, quirky, but entertaining. The novel was a really quick read that I breezed through when recovering from that last horrendous read, and it was pretty much exactly what I needed. You get into the rhythm of the bizarre writing style, and you take in the story, and the time jumps are not annoying or disconcerting, they just simply are. The novel flips effortlessly between humour and a more heavy, dramatic style, though I can tell you now that Vonnegut’s writing is not going to appeal to everyone. The story itself is really strange, and it is a whirlwind ride all the way. It is also cold and blunt, and due to the subject matter, I think that is going to grate on some people, too. I honestly thought that I would like this book more, especially because of how it is praised and all, but I didn’t find it to be groundbreaking and superbly amazing at all. Not that it is bad, but because it is just not the best book on war, or sci-fi, and the two don’t always mix too well all the time. There are also some disconcerting scenes – think of those involving sex and excrement – and there was not too much time at all to develop the characters very much. It is a book that clearly runs with the license to write what it wants, and at times that causes the book to suffer, and at other times it elevates the novel. Personally, I think it is worth reading at least once, at least for the trippiness and to have read Vonnegut’s most popular work, but I don’t think it is worthy of the extreme love it has. Or I missed something, who knows?

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12 thoughts on “Review: Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut

  1. Nish says:

    Trippy is the word to describe the book, in fact nodding in agreement over everything you have to say about this book. I liked it, it was fun, but I am clearly missing something I guess. Because I too did not think it was THE war book, or anything like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. snapcracklewatch says:

    I have been meaning to read this like forever. I need to check it out. It’s probably one of those books that is so deep, that it can be broken down and analyzed to death, which is the key to every literature class. Maybe that’s why it’s so popular too. Nice job Zoe, you’re such a good reader! I am surprised you didn’t pic literature as your major in college!

    Liked by 1 person

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