A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is a classic of anti-war science fiction. The graphic novel adaptation opens up the story. Set during World War II, the main narrative follows Billy Pilgrim as he ricochets across space and time. The level of violence ranges from punches to firebombings. Strong language includes "s--t," "f--k," "motherf----r," "piss," "damn," "goddamn," "hell," "son of a bitch." Billy "mates" with sex worker Montana Wildhack and is shown in the nude (with genitals blacked out). Billy gets drunk and takes morphine. Soldiers smoke when they can.
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What's the story?
As SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL opens, Billy Pilgrim comes unstuck in time. He lives through a series of disjointed scenes that always come back to his days as a prisoner of war in Dresden, Germany. He's captured by aliens, runs an optometry practice, is the lone survivor of an airplane crash, all at the same time.
Is it any good?
Sometimes a classic novel fails to gel in comics form, but this adaptation of a beloved book does a great job of retelling the story. Writer Ryan North is noted for his humor, and he captures the dark-but-buoyant tone of the source material. Artist Albert Monteys renders the action with a sure hand and an inventive eye, but some of the panels are colored so muddily that it's difficult to discern what's happening within the murkiness. Generally, this is a solid, sometimes surprising adaptation of an experimental novel. Younger readers might find this graphic version a better fit, but those with sophisticated reading abilities might want to tackle the novel straight on. Either way, they have a unique experience in store.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Slaughterhouse-Five and the concept of being "unstuck in time." What might it feel like to experience everything at once?
Why does the narrator say "So it goes" whenever anyone dies? What does the repetition of the phrase mean? What does it indicate about the question of free will?
Why are the soldiers in Billy's platoon so young? Why is the book subtitled "The Children's Crusade"?
- Authors: Ryan North, Kurt Vonnegut
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: History, Misfits and Underdogs, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Archaia
- Publication date: January 27, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 16 - 18
- Number of pages: 192
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: March 4, 2021
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