Why You Should Read Slaughterhouse- Five: Book Review

Full lockdown is finished here in Ireland but not all of us are vaccinated. That means you can still get stuck into those books you’ve been meaning to get around to. One of these books you should get stuck into is Slaughterhouse-Five.

I read this book near the start of lockdown last year and I still think about it. Here are a few reasons why you should read it and why I think it’s worth your time.

  • It’s short

I’m not joking, it’s literally 177 pages. You could crack this out in a day or two.

  • It’s such a good idea for a book

How to describe this book? It’s a time-travel, WWII book. It’s about a guy called Billy Pilgrim who is visited by these chill aliens that allow him to become “unstuck from time”. That means he becomes a four-dimensional being for all you Physics nerds out there or in simple terms he can visit any point in his life at any time. That means travelling back to when he was born, when he was in WWII and to his assassination (this isn’t a spoiler. It’s told in the first few pages).

  • It’s a mysterious book

One of the biggest ideas in this book is that everything that has happened in history is still happening and will happen again. That’s Physics talk for if you fly really, really, REALLY far away from the Earth and look at it with a telescope from the right spot you’d see WWII still happening on Earth. It also means that WWII wasn’t the last massacre to happen on Earth and that there will probably be more. The way Vonnegut hints at this idea throughout the book is really sneaky and adds some cool mystery to the story and he does by adding these sentences to every period in time Billy Pilgrim jumps around: “a dog barked somewhere”, “so it goes”. 

  • It’s a very reassuring book

This book is based on Kurt Vonnegut’s experience in WWII and how he witnessed and survived the largest mass killing in one night during the war, the Dresden Fire Bombing. 

Living through a traumatizing historical event like the one we’re living through right now can make you feel helpless. Vonnegut is someone who is qualified to make you feel better with this book and does it quite simply with the serenity prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” A pretty fitting mantra if you’re thinking “god, I’d love to stop all the horrible things happening in the world right now”. 

  • It’s fun to read

So many of the “books you need to read before die” are incredibly hard, pretentious, dated and boring. Slaughterhouse-Five is not a boring book, not for one second. It’s full of cool ideas, funny characters and it’s easy to read.

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