A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Strong language includes "s--t," "f--k," "motherf----r," "piss," "damn," "goddamn," "hell," "son of a bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult Billy gets drunk at a party. Soldier Billy takes morphine.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.