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.
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: