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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Paperback – 11 Sep 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Definitions; Film Tie-in edition edition (11 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862305277
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862305274
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (946 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. The winner of two Irish Book Awards, he is the author of eight novels for adults and four for younger readers, including the international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which was made into a Miramax feature film and has sold more than six million copies worldwide. His novels are published in over forty-five languages. He lives in Dublin. www.johnboyne.com.

Product Description

Amazon Review

John Boyne's The Boy in Striped Pyjamas will no doubt acquire many readers as a result of the subsequent film of the novel, but viewers of the latter would do themselves a favour by going back to the spare and powerfully affecting original book. Bruno is nine years old, and the Nazis’ horrific Final Solution to the ‘Jewish Problem’ means nothing to him. He's completely unaware of the barbarity of Germany under Hitler, and is more concerned by his move from his well-appointed house in Berlin to a far less salubrious area where he finds himself with nothing to do. Then he meets a boy called Shmuel who lives a very different life from him -- a life on the opposite side of a wire fence. And Shmuel is the eponymous boy in the striped pyjamas, as are all the other people on the other side of the fence. The friendship between the two boys begins to grow, but for Bruno it is a journey from blissful ignorance to a painful knowledge. And he will find that this learning process carries, for him, a daunting price.

A legion of books have attempted to evoke the horrors of the Second World War, but in this concise and perfectly honed novel, all of the effects that John Boyne creates are allowed to make a maximum impact in a relatively understated fashion (given the enormity of the situation here). The Boy in Striped Pyjamas is also that rare thing: a novel which can affect both children and adults equally; a worthy successor, in fact, to such masterpieces as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye -- both, of course, books, dealing (as does this one) with the loss of innocence. --Barry Forshaw

Review

"An account of a dreadful episode, short on actual horror but packed with overtones that remain in the imagination. Plainly and sometimes archly written, it stays just ahead of its readers before delivering its killer punch in the final pages" (Nick Tucker Independent)

"A small wonder of a book. Bruno's education is conducted slowly, through a series of fleeting social encounters rather than by plunging him into a nightmare landscape" (Guardian)

"An extraordinary tale of friendship and the horrors of war seen thorugh the eyes of two young boys, it's stirring stuff. Raw literary talent at its best. More please!" (Irish Independent)

"Quite impossible to put down, this is the rare kind of book that doesn't leave your head for days. Word of mouth should be strong and this has the potential to cross over to an adult audience. A unique and captivating novel, which I believe deserves huge success" (Becky Stadwick The Bookseller)

"Brilliantly written, superbly conceived novel, ending with words as bleakly ambiguous as any I have ever read. Boyne's ability to lead us on with crystal clear prose so that we unthinkingly fall into the elephant trap reminds me irresistably of another Irishman - Jonathan Swift" (Dennis Hamley The School Librarian)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE on 2 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
I want to start by saying that I found this a very effective book, albeit a shade too emotionally manipulative.

John Boyne's central character of Bruno takes us through the upheaval of having his 'normal' life in Nazi Berlin upturned when his father is given a new and apparently highly pretigious job in a place Bruno calls 'Out-With'. Through flashbacks, we get the background to why this move is necessary and the effect that this has on Bruno's family. I think the flashback involving Bruno's grandmother is particularly well-handled as we are shown a woman deeply troubled by the path that her son (Bruno's father) has taken and finally driven to speak her mind.

'Showing rather than telling' is very much evident throughout the book, particularly when the focus shifts to what's going on in Out-With. Reading this as an adult, I'm uncertain as to how quickly a child would catch on to what is actually happening to Bruno and more particularly, his friend, Shmuel. I also think that the implied affair between Bruno's mother and the bullying Lieutenant Kolter is perhaps a shade too subtle and personally, I questioned its necessity for the plot (not least given the obvious age difference between those characters and because I wasn't quite convinced by the reaction of Bruno's father).

Where I do think that Boyne succeeds is conveying the horror of the violence without ever showing it on the page. This is particularly effective in the scene where Kolter takes out his rage and embarrassment at having revealed his father's disloyalty to the regime on Pavel, the Jewish doctor forced to wait on Bruno's family at dinner.
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409 of 436 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 April 2006
Format: Hardcover
When I bought this book I wasn't sure what to expect; the blurb was very secretive about the content of the book. I was reading it with the thought of passing it on to my year 6 class, to try and lure them away from J.Wilson's teen-reads!
At first, it felt like a light read, for a book which says it isn't suitable for nine year olds; however, it becomes a lot darker the further you get into the story. As an adult, you can see beyond what the child sees and hears (this can be disturbing at times). I could not put this book down and read it in two days!
I won't spoil the ending for those who choose to buy it. The book as a whole left me thinking, which is a good thing. I am not sure if I would recommend it to the majority of my 11 year olds;however, I think a mature child would find it a thoughtful read.
I will be passing it on to one or two adults and children; I also think I may read it again in time I think a second reading may bring more subtext to the suface.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Carroty Nell on 31 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An ingenious storyline, presumably inspired by the true story of Kommandant Hoess's children playing in a garden in the Auschwitz camp very close to the gas chambers. In this novel, the fictional Kommandant's son Bruno befriends a boy his own age on the other side of the wire.

The writer John Boyne is under no illusions about childhood though - children can be monsters as well as adults. I was aware of a number of inaccuracies about the Nazis, though. Hitler would never have appeared in public with the lovely Eva as his consort on his arm - his relationship with her was so discreet, no-one outside the Nazi elite knew of her existence until after Hitler's death. And no Nazi schoolteacher would dissuade his charges from reading about the legendary knights of old - in such golden legends was Nazi philosophy grounded!

But that is my only criticism. It is otherwise an engrossing read.
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175 of 191 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Moore TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
I'm sure that this is a book that most people have now heard of, especially with the film now released. However, it's probably approached with as least pre-information as possible. I prefer the synopsis that the book originally had..

"The story of "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about. If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy called Bruno. (Though this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence. We hope you never have to cross such a fence."

It is listed as a children's book, but it's not for younger children, and it's certainly an adult book aswell. If you haven't yet read it, don't go searching the reviews, just pick up the book, and read it in the way it was intended.

The book is told in a simple manner, reflecting the innocence and naivety of Bruno. I believe it's meant to be read in the same way as a parable or fable, it's not meant to be a historically accurate text. To me, it was a simple, very effective piece of story telling, which brought me to a stand still, made me cry, and has stayed very much in my thoughts.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. H. Bretts VINE VOICE on 12 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
I think this is a terrific book, one that crosses over the boundary between children and adult fiction to appeal very widely. However, it is still a very disturbing portrait of Nazi Germany, vividly showing how fascist ideology and a patriarchal culture twisted and distorted the world - and could do so again. The ending is as powerful as any I've read in a work of fiction. What prevents me giving it five stars through is that the author never completely convinced me that the nine year old son of a high ranking Nazi official living in Berlin could absorb so little of what was going on around him.
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