book review

Slaughterhouse-Five

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Title: Slaughterhouse-Five

Author: Kurt Vonnegut 4981

Synopsis: Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time, Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.

Page Number: 215

Rating: ★★★★(4.25)

Hi fellow people who like to read! Slaughterhouse-Five is definitely a book I would not pick up on my own. If I saw the book in a bookstore, I wouldn’t stop and pick it up to look at. I came across this book as I was reading in class and my teacher asked what book I was reading. At the time I was reading The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson. She proceeded to give me a list of books I should read. In the class, she had copies of Slaughterhouse-Five and she gave me a copy to read. She told me, “You don’t have to read it. You can give it back to me in a couple of weeks and act like you read it.” I laughed a little. However, I decided to give it a try because some of my friends read the book and enjoyed it. This review is going to be non-spoiler and spoiler, the sections will be marked.

Non-Spoilers:

This book was good. I was really surprised that i enjoyed it so much. The writing was just wow. I feel like Vonnegut’s writing is a unique writing and I don’t think I have read a book with writing like Vonnegut. This book is so thought provoking and that is one of the reasons I like this book so much.

This book is an anti-war book. To me, it didn’t seem like an outright anti-war book, that if I didn’t already know it was anti-war, I probably wouldn’t have thought it was. But looking back on the book, I can see that it is anti-war, just maybe not in the most outright ways. It questions war and why we humans feel the need to do what we do during the war, like destroy. I like that the book does this, questioning war. I have not read any anti-war, or pro-war books so I have nothing to compare this to. Except I have this feeling that most anti-war books will highlight the horribleness of war in every way that can be throughout the book. I have this feeling that no other books question war like Vonnegut.

So going onto somethings that I didn’t like. Now I am not very good at finding aspects of books that I didn’t like. However one thing in this novel that I found a little annoying was the repetition of the phrase ‘So it goes.’ Throughout the book, this phrase appears over 100 times in the novel. Its a lot. At first it didn’t bother me and I overlooked the phrase. But it started getting repetitive  and I ended up rolling my eyes every time I saw the phrase. When looking at other reviews on Goodreads, I saw a question about what the phrase means. Someone commented that the phrase follows every death in the novel. I didn’t realize this until I looked back the my notes about the phrase only to realize it is true. With this information, the meaning I take from the phrase is that there is nothing we can do to prevent death, death happens. And there is nothing we can really do about that but accept it and let life go on. Billy learned from the Tralfamadorians that there is nothing to do in changing ones fate, that an outcome cannot be changed and the phrase ‘So it goes’ gets across that message.

Spoilers:

At the first chapter I wasn’t sure how much I liked it and I wasn’t sure if it this book was my type per say. However after the first chapter, I was intrigued. The first chapter is about a man and he talks about the war and after the war. He delves into a little on how he is writing a book about the war. At the end of the chapter, the character states how his book is going to start and end.

“I’ve finished my war book now. The next one I write is going to be fun. This one is a failure, and had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt. It begins like this:

Listen:

Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. 

It ends like this:

Poo-tee-weet?

And then I look at the beginning of chapter two, which starts like this:

“Listen:

Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.”

Needless to say, I was mind blown. Ideas started flying through my brain. My first thought/theory was that when the book was in Billy’s P.O.V. it is actually the book that was mentioned in the first chapter. And it was just a theory, but as I continue reading the book, I have gathered evidence which will be shared later in the review. When I thought of this theory, it reminded me of The Outsiders because(The Outsiders spoiler) the end of the story is Ponyboy writing his writing for a class, which starts with the first sentence of the book. So the whole story is basically his writing for his class.(Spoiler over for The Outsiders).

Throughout the book, Billy mentions the planet Tralfamadore and how he can travel there. When Tralfamadore is first mentioned, it is about how they perceive death. The mention of Tralfamadore seems to always come up when Billy is going through a tough time in the war. I think that was Kurt Vonnegut’s intention. To have it be that Tralfamadore is Billy’s way of coping with the situation. There is a time in the novel when Billy is in the war and he is out wondering with some other soldiers he came across. Bill is tired and weary. This is when the first “trip” to Tralfamadore happens/is mentioned. My understanding of Tralfamadore is that it is Billy’s brain is taking him to a happy, more comfortable place. Billy is going to a planet that finds him interesting and that is in a time of peace, whereas the Earth is not.

There is also the fact that sometimes during these stages he “time travels” to his past and “future.” To me this is another coping mechanism that Billy believes to be a reality. I think that it is his brain hallucinating, taking him away from the harsh reality of war and to a calming place. Replaying memories from the past, thinking of events in the future.

So back onto the topic on how the story of Billy is the book, proof I first have is found on page 67. In the first chapter, a character named Paul Lazzaro is mentioned. In later chapters, Billy meets a man named Paul Lazzaro. There is another case of this with the character Bernard V. O’Hare. When I came across this, it just added to my theory that the story of Billy is in fact, the book. The last piece of evidence I have to this theory is that the book ends the way the writer said his book would end.

Honestly, I could go on and on about the relations Tralfamadore has to being a coping mechanism, how his “time traveling” is hallucinations, and how Billy’s story is the book mentioned in chapter one. However if I did that, this review would be long. Heck it already is long and I’ve probably already bored you with this review. But fear not, my reviews will not always be this long…I think.

This book was hard to write a review for. It is hard to but this book into words for a review. For each person they take away something different, they interpret something different. I think the only way to understand this book and its depth is to read it for yourself. So I say, go pick up this book and discover the depth and the meaning for yourself.

2 thoughts on “Slaughterhouse-Five”

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