I mentioned in my post on Catch-22 that I had purchased Slaughterhouse-Five. I'd never read any Kurt Vonnegut before and enough people who I respect mention liking his books that I figured I'd try this one. It wasn't really an intentional desire to go on an anti-war book kick and to the extent that it happened accidentally it was probably a bad thing. I didn't really want to read anti-war books regardless of how good they were.

This book, much to nobody's surprise, is a real downer. I guess that shouldn't really be a strike against a book but it turns out that I really get irritated when my reading material is depressing. I know, I know, it's ridiculous to buy an anti-war book and then complain about depressing subject matter. I understand the logic but it doesn't change the fact that I didn't enjoy reading Slaughterhouse-Five.

There are other problems I have with the book. It's often classified as science fiction, I guess because of the whole business about Billy Pilgrim (the main character) being "unstuck in time" and visiting aliens. On the other hand, the book implies fairly strongly that this is all in his head because he's suffered brain damage. Is it science fiction if the only science fictional elements are in the head of an established mental case? More importantly the whole thing centers around Billy Pilgrim believing that there is no such thing as free will. As a result, he doesn't really bother to do anything throughout the novel. He lives through the Dresden firebombing in WWII, and goes on to have a life but there's no real conflict here.

So at the end what do we have? A haphazard jumbling of the life events of a WWII soldier (plus the weird stuff about an alien abduction). There's not much to draw from it, other than the fact that humans can suck and the Dresden firebombing was pretty frightful. I'm willing to accept those two assertions at face value and save myself reading close to 300 pages of elaborations.

It's really hard for me to sign on for another Vonnegut book after this. Maybe I'd like his other stuff more, but I can tell you that if I bought another book it would go into the vast pile of books-to-read and likely never come out. I guess if somebody gave me a specific "oh you'd like X much better" I'd look at it.

The good news is that this and Catch-22 were the only books in the "To-Review" pile that I didn't like. Hopefully I'll move through the remainder a little faster now that I've broken past the depressing duo.