by Kurt Vonnegut

Reviewer Rating:


Slaughterhouse Five had always been looming on all those "classic book" lists I have lying around so after years, I gave in and picked it up.

Kurt Vonnegut wrote this story of quirky protagonist Billy Pilgrim as he time travels through his life, experiencing his marriage and birth of children, the WWII bombing of Dresden, and his kidnap by aliens. Pilgrim is a weak, rather pathetic man who rarely makes choices of his own volition, making him a convenient narrator of the story because his feelings never get in the way of what supposedly happened. Billy observes the devastation wrought in the bombing with no emotion, and so leaves the reader to decide for him or herself how one ought to feel about a beautiful city and all its inhabitants being razed into a wasteland. Secondary characters throw in their 2 cents in his time travels, either condemning or applauding the so-called bravery of war, but Vonnegut leaves the reader with only a hazy idea that he disliked the war and you should too - he ends every tragic story with "So it goes," as if implying that no one had any control in the first place and therefore need not guilt themselves about the past. 

The style reminded me a lot of Vonnegut's contemporary Joseph Heller's Catch 22​ which I struggled through. All in all, it wasn't the most exciting or provocative book I've ever read, but I think that's due to my intrinsic preference for books with clear endings and purposes. I feel compelled out of pretension to give it a good rating, but to be honest, I didn't love it, though I'm glad I finally read this standard of literature.

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