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Crippen Paperback – 29 Sep 2011
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"Engaging" (The Irish Times)
"Compelling" (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Well-crafted narrative... plenty of thrills, chills, ironies and surprises" (Washington Post)
"Addictive" (People Magazine)
About the Author
John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. He is the author of eleven novels for adults, five for young readers and a collection of short stories. Perhaps best known for his 2006 multi-award-winning book The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, John’s other novels, notably The Absolutist and A History of Loneliness, have been widely praised and are international bestsellers. Most recently, The Heart's Invisible Furies was a Richard & Judy Bookclub word-of-mouth bestseller.
His novels are published in over fifty languages.
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While I don't normally read books concerning wars or the holocaust, I really wanted to read this because I'd seen the film and the books films are based on are normally better. In this case, the book was indeed better than the already-brilliant film.
I think one of the most important things is, it makes you think. Not only is it about two young boys who form an incredible friendship despite their different backgrounds, it makes you remember the millions of victims of the holocaust and truly realise what a terrible thing it was. Also, I love the fact it's almost entirely focused on their friendship and that it's less about politics. It's so thought-provoking that even though they should be enemies and that if they understood what was happening at this time they would despise each other, they are innocent enough to form such a good friendship.
I'd recommend this book to anyone (except young children who don't already know about the holocaust) because it is just such a good read. Warning, if you're a sensitive person, it will break your heart and have you in tears by the end. I won't lie, I was.
I felt the main character, Bruno, was unrealistically portrayed as lacking basic knowledge of Nazi Germany (even for a boy his age). I also felt the mispronunciation of certain German words for English words that sound vaguely similar (but have totally different meanings) quite unnecessary, and - again - unrealistic.
However, I do think Boyne captured the innocence of a child pretty well on the whole. Where this book succeeds for me is with the interesting plot. I also liked how it brought out the contrast in peoples' personalities depending on the situations they found themselves in.
But I was disappointed with the ending. Having seen the film I already had a good idea what would happen, and (having been left in some shock after the film) I hoped the book would expand on it a bit. But unfortunately the book summed up in a paragraph or two what would have been better explained with a chapter.
It's not very often I say this but I think the film was better than the book. It cut out a lot of the things in the book that I didn't really like, and the ending in the film was every bit as striking without feeling rushed.
First, I did enjoy The Boy in Striped Pajamas in a kind of unquestioning way that just took everything the author told me and believed it.(and it's a very quick read) It spoke to me of the innocence of youth and the countless tragic and poignant stories that came out of the holocaust, so many of them untold as whole famillies were destroyed.
At the end of the book there was sadness and a biting irony and it made me reflect.
But then..... There were just too many things wrong with it not to disassemble how I felt on finishing the book. The most difficult and fundamental hurdle to get over was Bruno's total lack of understanding of what was going on around him. Children are incredibly perceptive and I know that children much younger than him would have quickly realised that the things going on 'next door' were not right and that the world beyond the fence was no holiday camp!
I do enjoy reading a book that makes me think it over afterwards, and mark that as a sign of its strength, rather than the type that you close after The End and promptly forget. But, for me, the more I thought about The Boy in the Striped Pajamas the more I disliked elements that were far too contrived and so I'm not going to think about it anymore.