Written by: Kurt Vonnegut
Reviewed by: Brad Williamson
I’m not afraid to admit I’ve always strayed away from Vonnegut. Though I’m unsure the precise reason for this, I’d describe it as a personal dislike for the pervasive mood surrounding discussion of his books. But I recently decided to order this and Slaughterhouse.
Some sage advice: avoid the foreward on this one; it is poorly done and reveals far too much of the story while ruining the best jokes. This is especially sad, too, because the rest of the book isn’t very special.
The humor and setting quickly find a nice stride as the story begins. The narrator is interesting, the plot pulls you in, and a few of the jokes make you laugh. After the first 80 pages or so, however, it aimlessly wanders. Vonnegut’s prose is simple and pleasant, his characters detailed and interesting, but the settings and events that push the story forward are both boring and ridiculous, a combination that results in a wholly uninteresting climax and conclusion.
This novel has also been advertised as science-fiction, but it is not at all. The characters, tone, plot, and setting are all so distant from science-fiction that the bit of science involved in its climax isn’t enough to file it along with works by Huxley, Lem, Orwell, or any of the other writers Vonnegut is often associated with.
I didn’t dislike this book, but it wasn’t enjoyable; I was most disappointed by its lack of depth. I do not regret reading it, but I cannot in good conscience recommend it except to fans of Vonnegut or those, like me, who have been curious for a long time.