Customer Review

164 of 187 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Judging a book by its cover, 9 Dec. 2006
This review is from: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas: A Fable (Hardcover)
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.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Aug 2008 07:48:25 BDT
I constantly have to stop friends in their eager descriptions of books they feel I might like to read. "Please, only tell me that you recommend that I read a book". I certainly do not want a full review and the publishers who give away so much on the back of the book have no respect for their readers. With this particular, excellent book, "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas", I guessed the 'ending', kindly pointed out on the back cover by the publishers, halfway through - AND I WAS WRONG!

Posted on 27 Nov 2010 15:24:18 GMT
Jane Wilson says:
I agree with the above review. I bought this book when the book came out, mostly because the cover (and lack of copy about the book) was so powerful. It just said 'pick me up and buy me'. I read it very fast and couldn't put it down. I thought the book very strong, and was taken in completely by the narrators voice. I have to add, I did not like the end AT ALL. It seemed too factual and unnecessary and somehow did not fit the overall story. It might have been better to have added a more factual note, as the father's grief seemed a bit too gratuitous. I wasn't even convinced that the father would care THAT much as he seemed so evil.
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