zaterdag 27 december 2014

John Boyne: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas


This review is about Boyne’s first children’s book; The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
It has 216 pages.

“Bruno is a nine-year-old from Berlin who has three best Friends For Life, an elder sister who is a Hopeless Case, and an ambition to be an Explorer. One day in 1943 someone called The Fury decides that Bruno's soldier father is to be posted, together with the whole family, to somewhere called Out-With, which is far away from Berlin, and quite possibly not in Germany at all. The new house is bleak and shabby, and from one side of it you can see a high-wired compound inhabited by sad-looking people in striped pyjamas.”

I had a mixed reading experience.

I’ll start with the good points about this novel.
The novel read like a train and I wanted to keep on reading just to get to the (very predictable) end.
Boyne writes fluent. It’s so easy to read, gripping and compelling that it’s hard to put the novel down.

But Boyne clearly thinks that all children are idiots.
How in hell can a nine year-old son of a Nazi commander not know about Jews, Hitler or the fatherland? Especially if he moves to Auschwitz.
How is that possible? He’s a moron! I know smarter six year-olds.
And there are more faults like this.
I know Boyne meant Bruno to represent every blind and innocent person but it’s allowing people to claim innocence or disbelief about Nazism.
I do believe that Boyne made a big mistake by trivializing the real conditions and events in the novel. In real life, every child was immediately killed.
In the novel, there’s a big unguarded part of the fence and a small boy who can escape to that place every day without being missed or seen? Unbelievable.

As you can see, I wouldn’t allow my children to read this without some proper explanation afterwards.
Maybe I’m overreacting and overanalyzing this novel.
But what do you think?
How do you feel about this novel?

Happy reading.