Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

This post was originally published on my old blog on 5/23/14.

About the Book

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Author: John Boyne
Source: Library
Publication Date: September, 12, 2006 by David Fickling Books
Pages: 224
Blurb: Berlin 1942
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.

My Review

I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I really do. On one hand, I absolutely love the storyline of this book and the theme that it expresses. Bruno and Schmuel are two very innocent young boys living in a torn world. All around them, Nazi followers are persecuting and exterminating Jews. However, the boys still manage to break down the religion barrier between them and develop a strong friendship. They don’t see any menacing differences in each other. Instead, all they see is a good friend. Thus, they are able to show the world that children can be more wise and compassionate than adults because they are more accepting of their differences.Oh, the ending. The ending was haunting because there were so many loose ends that still weren’t tied up. When I read the last page, I was like “Wait, what? That’s it?” The ending was shocking and heartbreaking and it left me with a feeling of incomplete, which was really haunting. My mind didn’t like the ending because it wanted more of the story to be resolved. However, at the same time, I absolutely loved the ending because of the disturbing effect that it gave the story.Shocked Animated GIF on Giphy
As much as I loved the story, I strongly disliked the way this book was written. There were so many overused phrases, but the one that irked me the most was “His mouth formed the shape of an O.” I wanted to scream every time I saw that phrase. We get it-he’s shocked. But first of all, that phrase is so awkward. No one says “his mouth formed the shape of an O.” Second of all, there are many other ways to show emotion.
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Bruno was also way too innocent for a nine year old. Even more innocent than little Agnes Gru. I could understand if Bruno was a six years old, but even then, he would probably know more than he does in the book. I felt like kids were portrayed as stupid in this book when they are really not. Basically, it made the book unrealistic.Overall, I felt that the plot of this book could have made for an amazing story, if only the writing style and Bruno’s personality were different.

My Rating

Three out of five butterflies.
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Have you read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas? What did you think of it?
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Comments
I read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas last year for my school, and felt the exact same way you did. Like, seriously, everything you said and felt were my exact feelings throughout the book, and the ending was like “Whaaaaa??!!” It was a beautiful story, but I think it was kind of poorly written as well.
-Ana 5/24/14 2:00pm
Haha, great minds do think alike. Also, although this book was very sad, I was more saddened that this could have been such an amazing book, if only the writing was better.

 

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