10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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. Boyne doesn't tell you what Kolter's doing, instead conveying it through Bruno's shock at the sight, his recognition that what Kolter is doing is wrong but also his confusion as to why neither his father nor his mother are trying to stop it.
I think that the book is emotionally manipulative in the sense that once you finish it, you question how much of Bruno's ignorance as to what was going on in Germany and Out-With is credible. Certainly as a 9 year-old boy, I'd have expected him to know that 'Fury' was not the correct term for Hiter, what the Star of David represented and that Out-With is actually Auschwitz. I was also slightly uncomfortable that Boyne chose to set the book against the background of the most notorious death camps because I don't think you need to fictionalise the horror in order to bring what happened to life.
Saying that, I found the ending to be powerful and very well-handled and I admire the fact that Boyne is not afraid to leave the story on a frightening note.
410 of 437 people found the following review helpful
on 8 April 2006
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 31 August 2010
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! I'm afraid you do expect novelists to carry out more background research than Boyne clearly has.
But that is my only criticism. It is otherwise an engrossing read.
176 of 192 people found the following review helpful
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.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
At only two hundred and twenty four pages long, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is shorter than your average novel, is written very simply, and is easy to read. It's also unexpectedly powerful and shocking.
Set during the Holocaust, one of the most horrific events in world history, this book follows nine year old Bruno and his family, who relocate to Auschwitz due to his father's new job. Bruno has no idea where they are, or what they're doing there, and all he wants to do is return to his beloved city of Berlin.
Whilst exploring outside one day, Bruno meets Shmuel, a young Jewish boy on the wrong side of the fence. They meet almost every day, and, inexplicably, become great friends.
To say any more about this book would ruin the ending, so I'll leave it here. John Boyne has expertly crafted a story of innocence, friendship and the horrors of war, which leaves you thinking about our history and how one wrong decision can change your life forever.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2006
I could not put this book down and read it virtually in one sitting. It is a powerful book that grips you from the first few pages. Very well written and a powerful account from a child's perspective. I'm telling everyone to read it and have passed it without giving anything away! We shall be promoting it in our school library and I hope it is entered for the Carnegie Award - although it is for adults and children alike.
164 of 187 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2006
I have to confess, this is really a review of the cover of the book - specifically the creamy-beige softback edition. The book itself has been extensively reviewed elsewhere, and I, like many, found it superb.
The front inside flap of the hardcover edition reads as follows: "The story of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give clues about the book on the jacket, 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............". The back flap contains a few terse details about John Boyne, and the back is blank.
I knew nothing about the book when I picked it up from a colleague at work, and began reading in exactly the frame of mind suggested above. I was soon immersed in the little-boy world of Bruno. It was soon evident from people's names that he was in Germany (or possibly Austria), and that his father was an important man; but apart from that, I knew as little about the external world as Bruno did; and so it continued for several pages, until gradually the context of the story became clearer.
To put the reader into the mindset of another person is a great literary skill, and John Boyne carries it off very well - reminiscent of Mark Haddon with "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time". Unfortunately, this paperback edition, rather like an over-excited child, insists on giving away both the context and a significant part of the plot on the back cover. I can't help feeling that Mr Boyne must have wept when he saw how his carefully-constructed narrative had been undermined by this clumsy piece of publishing.
I urge the reader to read no more reviews of this book, but to go out and buy (or order) the hardcover edition - the one with the blue stripes - and enjoy a fine and thought-provoking read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 February 2012
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is written by Irish author John Boyne. It is a tale about the holocaust during 1943 written from the main character Bruno's point of view. Due to the fact that father has a new job the whole family has to move to a place called Out-With.
I liked the way John Boyne used a nine year old boy and made him get involved in adult situations. The part when Bruno stands up to his dad is powerful because his dad is very strict and he never talks to him. I liked the friendship between Bruno and Schmuel but Bruno shouldn't be talking to him because he is German and Schmuel is Polish.
The boy in the striped pyjamas is a tale about the holocaust during 1943 written from the main characters, point of view. It is a story set in Poland and focuses on an unusual friendship between Bruno and Shmuel .Bruno went to see Shmuel every day even though it was the wrong choice and risky because he could get in big trouble with his dad.
Bruno the main character loved exploring so it made the story exiting when he goes exploring and always leaves it on a cliff hanger . I found the ending quiet shocking , which made it a sad story but it didn't spoil the whole book. Through the fence Bruno found a friend with an unusual bond between them but still came to see each other just to chat!
It a tale about the holocaust during 1943 written from the main character , Bruno's , point of view. The adventure starts when the fury sent Bruno's family and the Jews to Poland.
This book is the best novel I have ever read. Boyne spent 2 years to put the fabulous ideas into a story. It is cleverly written and it gives clever image of the story .
What I liked about the book was it contained exploration ,as a result ,it made the book more exciting for the reader. On the other hand , I found that Boyne left out important information from the text which made it difficult to understand.
It is a tale about a boy who lives next to a concentration camp during the holocaust, where he meets a boy in striped pyjamas and how their friendship has tragic consequences...
I feel that the book was at its best when the author hinted at shocking events were happening while, Bruno didn't have a clue about what was going on! The one thing I didn't like about it was the ending, because it finally tells you everything in one chapter, and makes the reader fell so so annoyed.
Overall, I found this book to be a must read and now I still enjoy the book. I recommend it to book readers around the world, people all ages!
John Boyne, an Irish writer, has written an adventurous book "The boy in stripped pyjamas."
It's a tale about the Holocaust during 1943 written from, the main character, Bruno's point of view. The adventure begins when they were sent by the Fury, Hitler, to this
Awful place, Out-With. Bruno is missing his friends' in Berlin, capital of Germany,
But in Out-With he finds a new Polish friend called Shmual
John Boyne, the author, gives you an idea of Bruno at what happens in a concentration camp on the last few pages. Bruno always sees Shmual every
day also he brings him a pocket full of food. The reason Bruno brings food to
Shmual is in a concentration camp you get fed a tiny amount of food and most
of starvation. Shmual is in a concentration camp run by the Fury who gave Jews
and Polish people no food. Shmual took it from Bruno and at all of it because he was really thin and starving.
Bruno, the main character, enjoyed exploring for fun, which meant the book was quite adventurous and had an exciting plot.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2010
Many reviews for this book spend most of their content criticizing the realism of Bruno, the central character of "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" by John Boyne, questioning whether a nine year old boy with a father who is the commander of Auschwitz could really be so innocent as to have not realized the segregation of the Jews, understand what happens at the camp, or know who "the Fury" is.
However I ignored all that because I felt the simple narration was so successful that Bruno's innocence was believable. Because Bruno is the main voice in the novel, there is no way for the author to explain his naivety, however, the repeated mistakes of miss-pronouncing both Hitler's and the camps name as well as the emphasis on his under-developed stature and inability to pay attention in class suggest that he may have some learning difficulties that hinder his ability to grasp the horror he is living next to.
Boyne perfectly portrays the innocence and self absorbed nature of a nine year old trying to come to terms with move away from his home, loosing all his friends, and the odd behavior of his pubescent sister and (adulterous?) mother. In contrast, the reader can also see that Shmuel, the boy in the striped pajamas, on the other side of the fence, has been robbed of Bruno's innocence. The contrast between these two characters makes for interesting dialog- although details like the fact the boys were born on the same day seem a little contrived.
There are many books written about the second world war and many also about children suffering under the Nazi regime. This one is different because of the many reactions of different characters to the harsh reality of what is going on around them, and because it is the first book (I have found) in which the child has been protected from the horror around it. Although I read it many years ago, I had to think of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, in which a family adopts a Jewish friend in an attempt to save her. Although Number the Stars is a much more frightening book because the girls are acutely aware of the situation, the childish innocence that is portrayed is similar to Bruno's voice.
But yes, like many war stories, this one is not easy to swallow, although, through a malicious character flaw, I very much enjoyed the irony of the ending, which allows multiple characters to finally realize the atrocities they have committed.