Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Review: The Boy in the Striped PajamasThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Released by David Fickling Books on 12 September 2006
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 218
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780385751896
Source: Purchased

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If you start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy named Bruno. (Though this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.

Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to encounter one.

It’s a bit of a shame that my mum already spoiled the ending for me, because she’d seen the movie (which I plan on watching as well). But still I rather enjoyed reading this story.

There were a lot of characters in this book, first there is Bruno’s family; father, mother, Gretel (who is repeatedly called a ‘Hopeless Case’) and Bruno. Bruno’s father is a very important man in the German army, and in this story he becomes the commandant of Auschwitz (which Bruno thinks is called ‘Out-with’, even after being corrected by both his father and Gretel). They move to a house close to the camp, where Bruno hates it. There are soldiers all over the house, one of them being Lieutenant Kotler who’s just an ass. Then, one day Bruno decides to go exploring. He meets Shmuel, a Jewish boy who’s in Auschwitz with his brother, father and grandfather. The two become friends and they tell each other stories about their lives.

One thing that bothered me was the fact that Bruno seemed oblivious to the things that were happening in the camp. He thought Auschwitz was called ‘Out-With’, that the Führer was called ‘The Fury’, he had no idea what the word ‘Jew’ meant, and I just found it hard to believe that. He’s the son of the commandant of the camp, a very important man in the German army, and he doesn’t know all that stuff? His sister was supposed to be a member of the BDM for two years already, and he was supposed to become a member of that other group (of which I have forgotten the name, oh damn) in a year, when he turns ten.

Yes, of course, him being oblivious to all of this is better for the story, so he would not have hated Shmuel from the start, but I would have liked it better if the boy had hated Jews and then met Shmuel and decided that not all Jews were bad and they still became friends.

Other than that, I liked the story, I liked their friendship. It was a well written story, though I was a bit sick of reading about people’s mouths shaping like an ‘O’, and Gretel being a ‘Hopeless Case’ the whole time (why is she a hopeless case?!). I am going to see the rest of the movie soon, I’ve only seen a couple of tiny parts when my mum was watching it.