Saturday, 10 September 2016

Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne.

Book:The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Author: John Boyne

Pages: 250

Read: Paperback edition; you can sample the first few pages of the book by clicking on the 'Preview' link below

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2-3 days

Plot Summary: Berlin, 1942: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

General Thoughts: I've had this book for so long. Like over 2 years and I always wanted to give it a read, even though I knew the ending...courtesy the movie that came out a few years ago..I didn't see the movie. I just happened to read the very detailed Wiki entry! :( 

Things I Liked: 

1. The writing was wonderful and the style was both accessible to young adults and still readable and enjoyable for adults. 

2. I love reading about German life during the war. There are quite a few books about life in the concentration camps and a lot leading up to the war, while I do enjoy those books too. I do like seeing the life of the German people and how they were affected by the ravages of the war. 

3. I loved seeing Bruno's world through his eyes. Seeing his family and the things he can't explain or understand. 

4. This is a great book to give kids when you want them to know about the War and even about the concentration camps, without going into the frightening and gory details, this book gives a good and non-traumatising look into the war. 

5. I loved Bruno's grandparents and how staunchly against they were of Hitler and his politics and cruelty. I loved that how within the same family there could be such different view points. 

6. I also liked reading about how sometimes German citizens, even those so close to  the horrors of to it all- like Bruno's mom, didn't fully know what was going on in the concentration camps. 

7. I also loved meeting the people in the camp. Some of the camp members were sent to work for Bruno's family. A former doctor now reduced to being a butler. A man defeated and made to feel so small and insignificant yet not losing his compassion and kindness. Heart-breaking but so striking. 

8. There is a bit in the book where we get to 'meet' Hitler and his companion Eva, as they come to Bruno's home for dinner. This was interesting...really interesting to read. Hitler was a douche and horrible as was expected but Eva was shown as being kind and gentle. 

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. Bruno sometimes seemed much younger than he actually was. And sooooooooo naive! I get it this is 1943 but really, no one is that naive. He came across as really dense and stupid. 

2. His sister is such a cardboard character and comes across as really hollow and insipid. 

3. The friendship between Bruno and the boy in the camp comes so much later in the book and it honestly doesn't leave much of an impact. They weren't friends for that long and so in the end his anguish about having to leave his friend behind didn't really ring true. 

4. There are apparently several historical mistakes and errors in the book. Especially about life in the camps and the utter non-plausibility of Bruno ever making it to the inside of the camps in the first place. Also several actual survivors of  the camps have said that children, Jewish children never made it very long once they entered the camp. So this kid living and having time to hang out with Bruno was severely flawed. 

Rating: 3.5/5 

I actually enjoyed this book and it made me sad and made me think and I liked that the end, the end of Bruno's life wasn't really 'shown'. 

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