This book is one that comes back to me again and again. It's certainly not for everyone, and it was not what I expected when I first picked it up in high school. Instead of the war novel I thought I would read, I was thrust into something surreal and nonlinear, which jumped from an extra terrestrial zoo to the bleak German prison. The more I think about it, however, the more the reasons that this is hailed as an anti war classic become clear. In its nonlinear nature, the book captures the futility and the absurdity of war and provocatively parallels them with being an exhibit in a zoo on a distant planet. Unsurprisingly, the zoo experience is shown in a more positive light than the prison.
This is not my favorite Vonnegut (that honor belongs to the Sirens of Titan), but along with Sirens and Cat's Cradle this makes my top three. Readers who dislike SF or cannot handle nonlinear narration should stay away, but if these don't put you off and you haven't yet read this one, consider picking it up.
"Listen, Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time." Vonnegut's semi-autobiographical account of the firebombing of Dresden in WWII, Slaughterhouse-Five is acutely anti-war and darkly funny. It is a cross between reality and science fiction, employing both to explore the omnipresence of time as a character, rather than as something to be thought of only when we're running late and as the one thing that ties every person to every other person. This joint attachment to others makes everyone responsible, which is where Vonnegut's indictment of the massacre at Dresden makes its appearance. Overall, my favourite Vonnegut.
This book shows Vonnegut at his best, sliding back and forth through the time line of not only the main character, one Billy Pilgrim, but also through the time line of his own life. Having been present as a P.O.W. himself during the bombing of Dresden (during which he makes several cameo appearances) it is astonishing that Vonnegut can tell the tale so complacently and still fill it with such emotion. His descriptions of the tragedies of war and their correlation to everyday life on this planet are summed up neatly (and frequently) in a phrase that is synonymous with the man himself - "And so it goes."
"Slaughterhouse Five" is a very powerful book. It is the best put together, most literary valuable book that Kurt Vonnegut wrote. Commonly classified as an anti-war book which it is. Yet behind the anti war message, there is also a much bigger lessons to be learned from "Slaughterhouse Five" as it deals with universal themes like fate, free will, the illogical nature of humans and how life is only enjoyable with the unknown.
Slaughterhouse-Five was a thrilling read for me. As someone who is not a fan of historic war stories, Vonnegut does it in a style that is almost sci-fi and makes for a very interesting, humorous, vivid, and heart wrenching read.
The nonlinear storyline follows Bill Pilgrim has a poorly trained and misfitted soldier who bounces between the past and the present. Traveling in his mind(?) between the war in Dresden and to a time where he is kidnapped by aliens and made into an exhibit.
The book made me feel as if I truly followed Pilgrim to each of these places. I felt awkward with him, frightened, and grieved for him. The best part of the book is that Vonnegut includes himself & his alter ego into the story line, and it provides another element of intrigue for the reader.
I was very disappointed in this book. I had heard several good things about it and read high reviews; however, Slaughterhouse-Five failed to meet my expectations. I did not even waste my time finishing it.
I know Kurt Vonnegut has written several other books, but the way this book was written I would have guessed that he had never even written a paragraph before. Sentence flow and word choice was terrible! There are a lot of choppy sentence with annoying and unnecessary repetition. There is no clear plot; rather, the book seems to be a collection of small snippets that are difficult to piece together. And I could not come to terms with how many times the author felt the needs to say "and so on" and "so it goes".
Those qualities were so distracting that I could not find any interest in the actual content.
Blending reality and fantasy in this ping pong memory of war. Vonnegut is the master of telling you exactly what will happen but keep you guessing how. It is about the journey, not the destination. Metaphoric words of wisdom and nihilistic views of time are peppered throughout these passages. You could read this in a day or a year or never finish or all of those. So it goes.
Evan M. reviewed Slaughterhouse-Five: Or the Children's Crusade : A Duty-Dance With Death on
This is a very excellent novel. It is satirical, but not irreverent, and in many ways more truthful about the absurdity of war than a historical war novel. One of my favorite books that I will surely read again.
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. 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 unique poignancy -- and humor.