Review: Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five cover

SYNOPSIS: Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

Don’t let the ease of reading fool you – Vonnegut’s isn’t a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, “There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters.” – via Goodreads

GRADE 7I have been meaning to read this book for forever. Not only this book, I guess, but anything from Vonnegut, and I can finally say that I have ticked something off of my list. It was good, too. Weird, strange, quirky, but entertaining. The novel was a really quick read that I breezed through when recovering from that last horrendous read, and it was pretty much exactly what I needed. You get into the rhythm of the bizarre writing style, and you take in the story, and the time jumps are not annoying or disconcerting, they just simply are. The novel flips effortlessly between humour and a more heavy, dramatic style, though I can tell you now that Vonnegut’s writing is not going to appeal to everyone. The story itself is really strange, and it is a whirlwind ride all the way. It is also cold and blunt, and due to the subject matter, I think that is going to grate on some people, too. I honestly thought that I would like this book more, especially because of how it is praised and all, but I didn’t find it to be groundbreaking and superbly amazing at all. Not that it is bad, but because it is just not the best book on war, or sci-fi, and the two don’t always mix too well all the time. There are also some disconcerting scenes – think of those involving sex and excrement – and there was not too much time at all to develop the characters very much. It is a book that clearly runs with the license to write what it wants, and at times that causes the book to suffer, and at other times it elevates the novel. Personally, I think it is worth reading at least once, at least for the trippiness and to have read Vonnegut’s most popular work, but I don’t think it is worthy of the extreme love it has. Or I missed something, who knows?

Review: The Apprentice – Tess Gerritsen

the apprentice cover

Rizzoli & Isles #2

A year after the close of the Surgeon case, Detective Jane Rizzoli is haunted by the events of the previous summer,  yet still doing her best to work her job. She is a changed woman though, anyone could tell you that. While dealing with her near-death experience and the fact that her partner, Thomas Moore, married Catherine Cordell, the Surgeon Warren Hoyt’s obsession, she gets called out to an investigation which chills her to the bone. Detective Vince Korsak calls her in for input because someone is using the Surgeon’s signature and the crime scenes look eerily familiar yet with minor differences. Dr Maura Isles informs the police of a grisly turn of events in the case: necrophilia.

The FBI is called in, complicating the investigation intensely as everyone is playing cloak and dagger, smoke and mirrors. The latest killer on the loose is soon coined the Dominator due to the nature of his crimes. Attacking couples, horrific murders, teacups as warning systems while he forces the husband to watch the total desecration of his wife in front of him before being killed and the wife being taken. The situation becomes extremely aggravated when the Surgeon makes his grand escape after reading about the Dominator’s work in the papers. His long lost brother has been found, as he thinks, and a bloody plot of revenge to trap Rizzoli develops. Rizzoli is terrified but refuses to let the world see it, and her fights with FBI agent Gabriel Dean ratchet up.

After Dean apparently steps off the case, Rizzoli gets called off to Washington, where more past crimes are laid bare for her, and the case runs far deeper than even she initially suspected. She knew Dean had been witholding information from her, but the magnitude is shocking. Warren Hoyt is missing, and unknown subject is hunting and butchering couples, and there are absolutely no leads. The Dominator and the Surgeon are cut from the same cloth, and working together they will be unstoppable, something that certainly cannot happen. On top of all of this, it occurs to Rizzoli that they still might come after her, and fighting off two will be an impossibility. 

Will the serial killers come for Rizzoli? Will they ever catch up with Warren Hoyt and put him back where he belongs? Do the Dominator and the Surgeon identify with one another, and will they be a terrifying force to be reckoned with? What is Dean’s involvement with all of this?

GRADE 7.5I must say that I enjoyed The Apprentice. I thought that it was a step up a little from the last book in the way that Rizzoli certainly developed more as a character, and you don’t dislike her as much as you did. She has been broken, but I don’t really look at her as a victim, because she refuses to acknowledge that and rails against it constantly. Dr Maura Isles is a welcome addition of a character, and I liked her calm and cool attitude, though I do wish she had been included more. Then again, this is a simple introduction, and one that is subtle enough to work. I really liked Dean’s character, attitude and all, and I was really happy that Rizzoli eventually let herself be seen as a woman, too, and not just the cop. The passages about Hoyt were eerily similar to those from The Surgeon, but when you consider how closely linked these two are, it works. There were certainly changes from the last one, but much was the same. It worked, though, so I have no real complaints there. What I did have issues with is how some things were introduced and then fell away later on, got overlooked and forgotten (and here is specifically referencing the case she was called out on with the airplane man). Also, I felt that the conclusion, even though it was a triumph, was a little rushed and came to a screeching halt. It isn’t the worst thing. There was significantly more character growth in this one for Rizzoli, and I like the direction the books are headed in.