Slaughterhouse-Five: The Graphic Novel

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Slaughterhouse-Five: The Graphic Novel Book Poster Image
Anti-war sci-fi tale makes a smooth transition to comics.

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Slaughterhouse-Five is widely recognized as one of the most popular and groundbreaking anti-war novels of the 1960s. It is set during the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, at the end of World War II. The narrative is presented nonchronologically, with the main character "unstuck" in time.

Positive Messages

Throughout the book, whenever somebody dies, the narrator says, "So it goes." We should not be scared of death, because everything -- including good and bad -- happens at the same time.

Positive Role Models

A  hapless young soldier in World War II, Billy Pilgrim is unstuck in time, traveling back and forth between childhood and adulthood. He's generally kind and generous and comes to accept the extraordinary ups and downs of life, thanks to the belief that everything happens at once. His "mate" in outer space is sex worker Montana Wildhack, but he has a wife, son, and daughter back on Earth. One of his best friends is trashy writer Kilgore Trout.

Violence

As a prisoner of war in Germany, Billy experiences violence at the hands of his fellow soldiers. He witnesses the execution of a friend, survives the bombing of Dresden, and spends time digging up the dead.

Sex

Mentions of condoms, pornographic pictures, intercourse, and marital infidelity. Billy and his "mate," Wanda, are naked on display in an alien zoo. Their genitals are hidden or blacked out. Billy is caught having sex with a colleague's spouse.

Language

Strong language includes "s--t," "f--k," "motherf----r," "piss," "damn," "goddamn," "hell," "son of a bitch."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult Billy gets drunk at a party. Soldier Billy takes morphine.

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.

User Reviews

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Teen, 17 years old Written byMime- November 29, 2021

Good

It is GOOD, I enjoyed the book and it's characters. It has a lot of swearing, and some sex.
Teen, 14 years old Written byEbony-Gothixx August 3, 2021

Sure Buddy

When I was ten I had the assignment to read it but I thought it was too inappropriate. At the time, I was disgusted by the sexual scenes, but looking back, it j... Continue reading

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"?

Book details

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