Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

I grew up hearing about the famous Slaughterhouse-five and when I finally read it I must say I was disappointed by all the hype. I started reading the novel thinking it was a science-fiction novel and while I still agree it is one must not read it as if it is SciFi. The reason for this is I was expecting something like off the SciFi channel and what I really got was a bitter old man who had a dry and dark sense of humor. It didn’t make me enjoy the story less but trying to read it as a science fiction novel was disappointing. Reading it as someone who was trying to recall the most traumatic¬†event of his life and put it into words, helped a lot more than looking for killing aliens.

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I didn’t know quite what to make of Slaughterhouse-five but somewhere in chapter seven Vonnegut explains that it was easier talking about what happened to him in Dresden if he wrote it as a science fiction story than trying to remember what actually happened. Most of the time when we read a war story we want the blood, gore and violence because usually brave acts come with these but in reality they were just children trying to survive while being constantly shot at. The book is more aptly named The Children’s Crusade because it isn’t a glamorous war story because war isn’t glamorous. Thanks to Hollywood children grow up believing war is glorious and something everyone should want to do. That’s not true and above all that is what Vonnegut was trying to say in his novel.

It’s actually a pretty quick read and everything stated in the book is pretty straight-forward. I wouldn’t necessarily say it is the best read aloud in a high school classroom nor necessarily a book to study in the classroom but I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to students and discussing it with. It takes a different perspective on war and one that I think all people should know.

-A

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