Author: John Boyne
Publisher: David Fickling Books
My rating: (1/5)
When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
“You’re my best friend, Shmuel,’ he said. ‘My best friend for life.”
This book is irritatingly simple, and even though it was aimed at kids, it insulted the reader’s intelligence time and time again. The unreliable character was also irritating and completely dense when it came to ANYTHING at all.
Bruno, the 9 year old narrator, reads with the ignorance and naiveté of a child of 5 or 6. Not only that, but his lack of knowledge is completely impossible considering his cultural and historical context.
He’s the son of a high ranking Nazi official, and yet he has no knowledge of even the most basic of Nazi principles. He’s apparently never heard phrases like “the Führer,” “Heil Hitler,” or even “Jew.” He has no idea that his country is in a war, or that there are ethnic groups that exist apart from his own. Oh, and that he’s supposed to hate them.
That is just the beginning. The plot holes in this book are painfully endless. The author even uses the wrong metric system…
Turning such an overwhelming topic into a cute story just seemed wrong. This book would have done better as an adult story, and preferably written by someone who educated themselves on The Holocaust before writing. FYI, John Boyne, the fences would have electrocuted him.
I understand it is a fable, a fictional tale, but this tragedy is not something to have artistic freedom with.
I didn’t like any of it. The writing was too young and the plot was too slow, and many things were just plain wrong. I was so bored and angry that I started skipping pages.
Maybe this is one of those rare cases where I’ll prefer the movie to the book.