Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Books Week Book Review and Giveaway: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut



Book: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Genre: classic SF/Historical Fiction mix, sort of
Rating: ★★★☆ ☆
For: Banned Books Week
From: a gift last Christmas from Ibeeeg at Polishing Mud Balls

As part of celebrating the freedom to read this week, I agreed to participate in the party hosted by Sheila of Book Journey by reviewing a book from the banned/challenged book list. I've picked this book in particular because it's been sitting in on my shelf for quite sometime waiting for an opportunity just such as this!

I had no idea what to expect. I've never read anything by this author, though I've wanted to see what the fuss is all about surrounding him. But what this book was about (other than what I read months ago on Ibeeeg's blog, which of course I'd forgotten already) I knew nothing.

What I got was a weird, very strange, bizarre book! I don't even know where to begin!

So there's this guy who wants to write a book about his war experiences, so he goes to talk to his war buddy,  and they reminisce sort of. But then, the book shifts to another guy, Billy, who we follow for pretty much the rest of the book (the narrator pokes his head in now and then) throughout his sad and crazy life.

For you see, he time travels in and out of all his life's experiences, including the time he was kidnapped by aliens and put on display in their zoo. Yes.

But it's my opinion that Billy wasn't really time travelling at all, and that he didn't really get abducted by aliens, but in fact, his brain was doing strange and fantastical things in order to survive the horrors of war. Because it was the horrors of war that this book dealt with for the most part. Billy goes off to fight, gets caught behind enemy lines, is sent by train (cattle-like) to a POW camp that in fact didn't sound so bad at first, and then is sent to Dresden where the city was bombed and destroyed. But the American POWs survive.

Then he comes back home to live his life, all the while dealing with these memories. We jump back and forth, back and forth, from the war, to his post-war life, to his childhood, to his alien abduction. This method, I must say, wasn't as jarring as it sounds and actually gives the reader a fabulous feel of what it might be like to be in this guy's head.

And it wasn't a fun place to be at all.

In the end, I found the book a very quick and easy read despite the difficult subject matter. I did find several parts a bit offensive and the language sometimes harsh, thus the reason, I'm sure, for it's being on the banned list. The alien bits were at once funny and awful. I think alien stories creep me out as much as anything else, and this one was no exception. Though strangely (or maybe not when you think about it) enough, I think Billy was happiest during this "experience."

Bottom line: While I can't truly say "enjoyable" I can say that it was an interesting experience and one I'm glad to have finally accomplished!

And so it goes.

Other Reviews:

Bizarre, and incredibly engrossing. This is not a book to be missed. From Polishing Mud Balls

If people are shocked by this book, than they’ve been living under a rock. From Fizzy Thoughts

Vonnegut’s deceptively simple masterpiece is about life itself; it is about the futility and utter waste of warfare; it is about time, and the way that we perceive it; it is about fate and whether any of us really has any control over what happens to us next. From Book Chase

It was clever, but there wasn’t anything underneath the cleverness. From Jenny's Books


Now, as part of the celebration, I will giveaway a copy of this book to a lucky reader! Just fill out the form below (I plan to send it to you from Amazon, so anyone that Amazon ships to can enter) with your information.

I'd also love to have you comment on 1) have you read this book and how did you interpret it? and 2) what book from the banned list to you find most shocking to be there.

 I just have to end with this song, which was pretty much in my head the whole time while reading this book. You'll understand if you've read it. Besides, I LOVE this song, so I must share:


 

30 comments:

  1. Bridge to Terabithia especially in that decade. sometimes I wonder that people just keep a title in their head, remembering they were told not to read it once, and when it surfaces in their kids backpack they freak out instead of reading it? anyway. that one is an odd duck for me.

    S5 is a different experience, which was much of the appeal to me; but I lean towards more of his short stories for the re-read.

    ~L (omphaloskepsis)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. L: Short stories? I will have to keep my eye open for those. And yes, I agree with what you say about people having a title in their head that is "bad" but have no idea why. Gah!

      Delete
  2. I was surprised to see Gone With the Wind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol: Wasn't there that bad word at the very end? :)

      Delete
  3. Kurt Vonnegut is one of my all-time favorite writers. I recently re-read Slaughterhouse Five because it had been almost 20 years since the last time I read it. It was not as good as I had remembered, but I still love his writing style and his subtle satirical commentary.

    I wrote about it on my blog: grownupbookreports.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kat: Don't you hate it when you re-read something and it's not as good! So disappointing when that happens! I will go check out your link. :)

      Delete
  4. I have never read this one but I would like to. Thanks so much for being a part of the Banned Book Week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sheila: Thanks for heading up the awesome celebration!

      Delete
  5. I remember reading Slaughterhouse Five in high school and enjoying it. I recently bought myself a copy intent on doing a second reading but I haven't quite yet. Sorry it didn't work for you.

    I can't figure out why some of the children's books are being banned. I saw a Junie B Jones book on the list and I don't understand it. Also, Harry Potter. Why? So strange.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristi: Oh, I wouldn't say it didn't work out.. just not my favorite sort of book. It was interesting though, very interesting! And Harry Potter has witchcraft! That's why! Yep.

      Delete
  6. Vonnegut is one of my dad's favorite authors, and my dad introduced me to his writing when I was a freshman in high school. I immediately loved his writing! It is definitely time for me to reread this. And so it goes.

    Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quixoitc: And so it goes. And so on.

      Delete
  7. I don't think I've read this one...but I did see the movie. Sounds like a read I might enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laurel-Rain: I may have to look into the movie version, just for "fun."

      Delete
  8. Great review and I kinda can't believe I haven't read this yet!

    There are so many books on that list that surprise me that I don't know where to start! I recently learned that Green Eggs & Ham has been challenged which is just plain crazy to me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer: I kinda couldn't believe I hadn't either. But now I HAVE! :) Green Eggs and Ham? Really?

      Delete
  9. Kurt Vonnegut is my all-time favorite writer but Slaughterhouse Five is not one of my favorite Vonnegut books. It's good, no doubt but it pales in comparison to Breakfast of Champions, Cat's Cradle and Mother Night. I thought you review hit the nail on the head.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ryan: So happy to hear that I got it "right" from a true fan! I will have to give the other books a try. I know Cat's Cradle is on the shelf and waiting.

      Delete
  10. I didn't love this one either, but I did like it and am glad to have read. I liked CAT'S CRADLE a bit more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jessica: Cat's Cradle will be next for my I'm thinking. But another day. However, I think I put this one one my classics list? ONE DOWN! :)

      Delete
  11. I am so glad you shared that song. It was one of my favorites way back in highschool but I hadn't thought of it in ages. Brought back so many memories. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeane: It's an awesome song I agree! The author used this phrase so many times, that all I could hear was this song. Had to post it!

      Delete
  12. I was surprised to see two of Roald Dahl's children's books (James and the Giant Peach, The Witches) on the list of banned books. Both are my favorite books that made me love reading as a child.

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have meant to read this book forever and finally got a copy of it on my Kindle. Now you're scaring me at bit! HA!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I've meaning to be reading this one since Ibeeeg raved about it. It sounds so weird, though!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I was stunned to see WHERE'S WALDO on the list. Who does this?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Not a book I've ever read and to be honest part of me doesn't know if I want to but that is my decision to make and not the decision of another individual who for whatever reason deems it unsuitable.

    Anyway, not sure it's on the list you link to as I can't for some reason access it but Green Ham and eggs by Dr Seuss which I posted on on Monday is probably one of the most odd banned books I've come across.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I've been wanting to read Slaughterhouse 5 for a while now, I heard it was a strange book so I'm even more excited to read it. I just skimmed your thoughts on it, I want to know as little as possible before reading it. I'm glad to know you at least had an interesting experience reading it.

    I'm surprised about the Goosebumps series, I know they're supposed to be horror stories but I loved the books as a kid, they were a lot of fun to read and there was minimal horror factor.

    ReplyDelete
  18. All of them really! But Green Eggs & Ham??? Come on, it's Doctor Suess, lol. x

    ReplyDelete
  19. I've got this waiting for me to read... but I need to second the suggestion of Cat's Cradle. SO GOOD. Also, Sirens of the Titan. -Sarah

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails