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Showing 1-10 of 1,393 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 2,888 reviews
on July 7, 2015
Slaughterhouse-Five was a fascinating read, that left me wondering "What does it all mean?" I suspect that if Vonnegut had the opportunity to reply to that question, he'd reply with "Indeed. What DOES it all mean?"

The truth of the matter is that it all sums up to nothing. In Slaughterhouse Five, we explore the age-old question of fate versus free will; in Vonnegut's view, there is only fate. Our decisions, actions, and interactions all add up to moments that are as they were meant to be, regardless if we think we have the capacity to change them.

This futility of action on pre-determined events sums up Vonnegut's view on war - it is a futile and senseless game, where one can meander in and out, unscathed, while others who tried so hard to change the tide of the battle die by the hundreds of thousands. This view of the lack of necessity of war became so particularly clear to me in this passage, where Pilgrim (Vonnegut's protagonist) describes a war film run in reverse, where destruction is neatly vacuumed up into the device of it's deliverance, where all humanity, (including Hitler) ages in reverse to become babies, and ..."conspired biologically to produce two perfect people named Adam and Eve, he supposed." The passage is beautifully written, showing the destructive power of war reversed, simply with a different perspective. Even more astounding, however, in this reverse timeline, is the return of all humans to the root of Adam and Eve as "perfect people". Vonnegut paints a stark contrast between God's creation of perfection, and Hitler's war machine of destruction in an attempt to achieve the same goal through the creation of an "Aryan" people.

Whether you agree with Vonnegut's view on war does not diminish his artful exploration of it, fate, and our purpose of existence (or lack there-of.) Worth reading.
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on May 3, 2016
This novel is essential in many ways. It is undoubtedly one of the best-written, most well respected novels of the 20th century (No. 6 on the list that was a compilation of all the other lists) and is, therefore, essential to your understanding of 20th century fiction. If you have never read Vonnegut, this book should be the first one you read: it is the most famous and one of the best and really captures the essence of Vonnegut. Finally, despite its literary merit, this is a FUN book to read. You will laugh, you will think, but, most of all, you will enjoy reading it and you will finish it FAST.
This should be your introduction to Vonnegut. I've found that true Vonnegut fans don't often choose Slaughterhouse-Five as their favorite, but, instead choose one of Vonnegut's other wonders (Breakfast of Champions, Cat's Cradle, Sirens of Titan, etc.). I think that most would agree that this is a good jumping off point, just as, in music, people often start with Greatest hits albums and then work from there.
Only Vonnegut could make such a strange premise believable and emotional. The book shifts time and place from paragraph to paragraph without warning. It is about aliens and WWII. It all works so perfectly, however and is so profound to those who read carefully. Billy Pilgrim is one of the great characters in all of literature.
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on October 21, 2016
I originally read this novel as assigned reading in high school...sadly, great literature is wasted on the youth. As a high school student, I didn't grasp the pain and beauty of this great piece of work.

I recently read a short story, "Peace in Amber", by Hugh Howey which led me back to this book. I read the short story three times trying to understand it when I remembered Billy Pilgrim from "Slaughter House Five" so I quickly purchased it and re-read it. 40 years after reading this book in high school, I finally GET it and fully understand Peace in Amber (highly recommend it).

Kurt Vonnegut tells this tale in the third person as an onlooker following Billy Pilgrim who is a Private during WWII. This book is an emotional look behind trauma, fear, unbearable sadness, strength and resolve...just to name a few. It gives the reader (or in my case listener) a rare peek behind the emotional damage and coping skill a human being needs to develop just to survive these horribly traumatic experiences...dissociation, denial, fight or flight, hysteria...all the ingredients for long term mental illness, PTSD, severe depression, projection, etc.

This book is a heartbreaking, somewhat semi-autobiographical tale of Kurt Vonnegut's own experiences in WWII woven into the beautiful and horrifically sad journey of Billy Pilgrim that will weigh heavy on your heart long after the final sentence...
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on January 27, 2017
I know this a oldie but goodie book - but somehow I missed it all these years. Interesting reading it 50 years after it was published. It has passed the test of time. It is oddly engaging and unpredictable and just plain weird. This type of work can not be copied because it so utterly original. I can see how it was shocking in 1967 and was ultimately banned by some schools. Funny how that insured it would get the attention it deserved. This book retells the narrative of the WWII by someone who was there. Like all wars, I assume, there is absurdity, contradictions, unknown heros, small and big people that no one ever hears about. I have read a lot of books, fiction and non-fiction, about WWII and this book provided a colorful dynamic addition to all the thousands and thousands of books written on this subject. Where are all the Kurt Vonnegut's today? We need you so desperately.
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on March 22, 2017
There aren't any other books like this one. Not even by Vonnegut. It's absurd and sincere at the same time. Realistic and fantastical. Funny and heartbreaking. I loved it.

Unlike a lot of war books I've read, this one doesn't really try to show what it was like to be there. Instead, the focus is on the long-lasting effects on those who were there. How they are forever changed and damaged by their wartime experiences. I think this is part of why I loved it. Vonnegut doesn't drag you through the horrific details of the characters' experiences, so in that sense you are spared. You can keep looking. You don't have to turn your head. Some of the worst moments are told with a quiet levity: the joke's on us, so to speak.

The refrain of "So it goes" was a powerful one. It provided just enough distance and humor from the events to make them bearable to read. It conveyed the helplessness we all feel in the face of tragedy and pain, but also the hopefulness of "life goes on" afterwards.

The narrative structure is unusual. At the beginning we meet a narrator who says he wants to write a book about his experiences in Dresden, so he goes to interview an old war buddy and they talk about Billy Pilgrim, a man who has come unstuck in time and has been abducted by aliens, or so he says. The rest of the narrative bounces all over time, from before the war, during the war, after the war and back again, following Billy as he time travels. The narrator himself mostly disappears, leading me to wonder if he really is Billy himself, at least metaphorically.

This jumping around in time was beautifully controlled and allowed Vonnegut to draw parallels and connections between disparate events in Billy's life. The overall theme of the book, at least the one I took away, is about moments in time and our relationship to them.

Beautiful. Sad. Funny. Just like life.
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on January 2, 2014
Some books can't be reviewed. Generally these fall into two categories: 1) books assigned by lit teachers and 2) books written by Tolkien.

Slaughterhouse five falls into one of those. ('s not the second.) I wasn't assigned to read it--high school was 20 years ago for me. I picked it up voluntarily. Hugh Howie has a new book coming out next week based on Vonnegut that I want to read, so I thought I'd better read this one first. I won't know if it was necessary until I'm through with Hugh Howie's, but at least now I can say I read Slaughterhouse Five! Since I can't review, I'll just tell you what I thought. And yes, there's a difference.

Let me first say, I get it. I really do. As a feat of writing, Slaughterhouse Five is impressive. Go ahead and try writing an engaging story with no plot that doesn't follow a timeline and see if YOUR book becomes a classic. I get that war is horror. I get that in war, even the winners are losers. I appreciated the lesson that war movies portray war as a heroic playground for grown men, but in reality war is a killing ground for children. I hope with all hope that the only way my children will know of the true nature of war is by reading Slaughterhouse Five. I'm glad I read this book because it terrified me. Billy Pilgrim freaked me out. So I get it.


The book was really, really weird. Intentionally weird, it's true. But weird all the same. So weird I didn't enjoy it. Slaughterhouse Five was not fun to read, and as shallow as that is, fun happens to be the reason I read.

Oh, and 135,000 weren't killed in Dresden. It was 25,000. When Vonnegut published in 1969, perhaps that's what he thought was the truth so he wasn't trying to mislead intentionally. He didn't have access to Wikipedia then. Or, maybe he did know and he's nothing but a half-truth spewing propagandist.

Either way, I might not have been entertained but now I know the truth. I suppose that's what the whole point was anyway. So it goes.
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on December 12, 2014
I recently purchased this book and read it for the second (or third?) time, having last read it over 15 years ago. I remembered it being good, though not my favorite Vonnegut novel. (Mother Night is probably still my favorite simply because I find that I think of it often, because the moral of the story remains poignant and because the complexities of the story remain interesting and provocative.) I was curious to re-read it because I was reminded that this was one of Vonnegut's favorites of his own novels. (He rated it an A-plus along with Cat's Cradle. Interestingly, he rated Slipstick a D, and I found Slapstick to be a wonderful book - also one that I reflect on often. But then again, I actually love *all* Vonnegut writing because even his worst is better than most everything else.)

This most recent reading upgraded my opinion from good to great. Still, I favor other Vonnegut novels. As I wrote, Mother Night may be one of my favorites, and I also love Bluebeard. But Slaughterhouse Five is certainly worthy of the praise it receives. It showcases the genius of Vonnegut - moralistic yet nihilistic, pointless yet poignant, heartbreaking, uproarious, and deeply human while at the same time bizarre and alien. I loved every minute of it - every sentence. Vonnegut certainly sticks to his own rules of writing. Not a sentence is wasted. No fluff. Nothing flowery or uninteresting. Nothing overly complex. He keeps it simple and yet in so doing causes the reader to question and wonder and look more deeply into his or her own heart.

One thing that is rather obnoxious, however, is that the Kindle version (which I purchased) is rife with errors. I noticed formatting and capitalization errors throughout. The errors are not enough to make it unreadable, but it is obnoxious to be charged $5.99 for a Kindle version in which it is evident that basic proofreading was not applied. That seems unprofessional and rude. If I was being charged $0.99 I wouldn't even make mention of it. But $5.99? I expect reasonable efforts to be made to produce a professional quality product. Why I am bothering to write this critique, I don't know, because with 1720 reviews as of this writing, I can't imagine that RossettaBooks, the publisher of the Kindle version, can be bothered to read this one. But in the nearly infinitesimal chance that someone from the publisher does read this, *please* proofread these books before publishing them.
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on July 18, 2016
This is my first experience reading a metaficton novel. Frankly I find this caliber of strange a welcome deviation from my usual reading material. The main character feels more like a window to witness the events of the story than being an actual participant with some exceptions here and there. I was skeptical at first on the idea of the plot unfolding out of chronological order but Mr. Vonnegut's impressively human style of writing keeps you very invested in a story that gives away most of the plot and the ending in the very first chapter.
The passive demeanor of Billy Pilgrim brings an interesting view of a mindset that is indifferent to many circumstances that would cripple most people. However I also believe Pilgrim's passivity is a condition his experiences in war have left on him and is in fact the result of his own internal struggle with the war which follows him through his "travels". This leaves one to believe that Pilgrim is hardly what one would call a reliable narrator, and one is left to wonder what memories and trials of his are genuine or fabricated.
Kilgore Trout is by far one of the most amusing characters to me and provides good comic relief. Even through his cameo in the story is rather brief at best. My favorite element by far though was the race of the tralfamadorians and their perceptions of time and free will. The side commentary on Jesus Christ being your everyday average joe stripped of any mask of divinity makes me wonder how many christians have been outraged by this book. I think personally it presents a more humble version of Christ as a figure, which I personally felt complimented his overall philosophies very well and would make a a lot of sense if such a thing could ever be proven as fact.
If anyone is looking for a book that takes one far off the beaten trail Slaughterhouse Five is for you. I believe it's exceptionally beneficial to bury yourself inside a story that can challenge preconceived notions and occasionally mildly disturb; depending on the readers moral compass and general constitution. There are very few books I can say that I would pick up and read a second, third, or even fourth time. Slaughterhouse Five has certainly established itself into those ranks and has become one of my favorites.
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on November 6, 2016
It has been some time since I last read Slaughterhouse Five. The first time I read it, the story of Billy Pilgrim and his travels through time confused me. Each successive reading of this classic work reveals something I hadn't seen before. Vonnegut draws on his own personal experiences a prisoner of war in WWII and incorporates them into the novel to the point where it is sometimes hard to tell when the sentiments expressed are his own true feelings or are just vehicles used to build character development or propel the story.forward. Much of the work is still applicable to today, and this is IMO one of the marks of a truly good work.At one point this work was highly edited for reading in public schools and eventually even banned. Many patriotic American veterans of WWII did not care for Vonnegut's portrayal of Americans in the war, his politics, or his opinions of war in general. Yet despite opposition on may fronts, Slaughterhouse Five has stood the test of time and should be on every serious reader's bookshelves.
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Lots of people are slaughtered within this bloody book. So it goes. The author coldly writes “so it goes” every time someone dies. So this books is full of “so it goes”. Hey, watch out! The author will try to fool you since he can't slaughter you as well. Seems that there is a physical restriction protecting you. He knows it, but plays with space-time anyway. Obviously, I’m guessing here. Maybe he can travel in time. And is writing this very review. Or he is just sharing his bird-view from WWII. Yeap, “bird-view”. The damn book even ends with “poo-tee-weet” but he tells at the very beginning. What? Dont worry. And so on.
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