By: Kurt Vonnegut
Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time. From witnessing the day of his birth to the moment of his death, he is a collection of his experiences and has resolved himself to fear nothing. Billy’s first encounter with time travel happened when he was hiding from German soldiers on a cold day during World War II. However, his ability to hop from one time to another is not explained until years later when he is abducted by the Tralfamadorians in a flying saucer.
Told from the perspective of a fellow soldier, Billy’s story send a prominent anti-war message wrapped in a humorous bow.
I tend to shy away from books that deal with time travel because I usually find them to be farfetched and trite. However, I was recommended this book some time ago when I was still in college, and the recommendation never left my mind. In a moment of weakness at the Barnes & Noble, I decided to purchase a copy of Slaughterhouse-Five despite my reservations.
I did not know it was a science fiction story with anti-war themes let alone a satire. In the end, I would say that I was pleasantly surprised and that I enjoyed it as a quick read. Slaughterhouse-Five was my first Kurt Vonnegut experience, and I can definitely see why this book is a classic. However, I do not feel any pull to read his other works. Maybe somewhere down the line, but this might do it for me.
I enjoyed the time jumps that happened randomly between different parts of Billy’s life. I thought that us starting in one place, jumping to another, and then coming back to the original place was effective in showing circular themes and repetitions between different places in time. I also thought it was a unique way to tell the story because the time travel didn’t feel like a gimmick. It had a purpose and was therefore impactful rather than just acting as a plot device.
I can’t say too much about the novel without spoiling anything, but I would definitely pick-up your own copy or get it from the library if you haven’t read it already.
However, I will leave you with these thoughts. Life is meaningless, so focus on the positive. Also, war is inevitable and fought by children.
Overall Rating: 4