Title: Slaughterhouse 5
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Publication Date: 1969
Review Score: 8/10
War prisoner, farther, optometrist… time traveller, these are the different roles of Billy Pilgrim’s life. Captured during the Battle of the Bulge, towards the latter stages of World War II, Billy, a less than heroic Chaplain’s Assistant, ends up with his fellow prisoners in a disused slaughterhouse in Dresden, where they hide out and survive the horrific Dresden Bombing that took the lives of over 25,000 people.
Some years later, Billy, now a successful optometrist, is abducted by the Tralfamadorians, a superior race which takes him to their planet and put him on show in the zoo, forced to live and mate with the famous model and actress Montana Wildhack.
The Tralfamadorians teach Billy about how time is not a continuous motion forward, but each moment continues to exist forever and can be enjoyed at any time. The book follows this line of thinking jumping through Billy’s time line, looking at the war, his abduction and all the major events in his life.
Bitter yet funny, ludicrous yet chillingly real, Slaughterhouse 5 is a moving anti-war novel, a stark examination of the human psyche and even a completely original piece of fantasy fiction. The writing is sharp and powerful, the characters are incredibly real and the ideas that surround this real event are incredibly original.
Do not expect a tangent, coherent piece of literature with a clear beginning, middle and end because you definitely won’t get it here. There is no definitive conclusion, no heroic crescendo, just an excellent piece of writing that definitely deserves to be on the list of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.
Title: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Author: Lewis Carroll
Publication Date: 1865
Review Score: 8/10
Sitting in the garden on a summer’s afternoon, Alice sees a white rabbit hop past, who seems very worried about the time. Without thinking about how she might get back out, Alice follows the rabbit down the rabbit-hole and tumbles into a strange and fantastical wonderland!
On her journey, Alice encounters animals that answer back, a never ending tea party and a royal family made out of a pack of cards. It also seems that no matter what she does, she keeps either growing to the size of houses or shrinking so small she might disappear!
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a beautiful piece of literary nonsense, full of hilarious characters, truly bizarre situations and fantastical ideas that do bring true wonderment to the mind of the reader.
As we follow Alice’s journey into this weird and wonderful world, we get to experience the fairy tale with the same shock, surprise and excitement that she does. And even though so much of it just seems absolute, ridiculous nonsense, it doesn’t matter, as you can’t help but read it with a big grin on your face!
Although a children’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland can be and is enjoyed by people of all ages and has continued to be popular generation and generation. It has had so many different interpretations and been re-defined over and over, continually reminding us all of how original, remarkable and enjoyable Lewis Carroll’s wonderful ideas were.
This is a book I will definitely be reading to my kids one day and think it is an excellent addition to the 1,001 Books to Read Before you Die list! No matter how old you are, I guarantee that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will bring out a childlike smile in you.