Mariella Hunt

Mariella’s Fangirlish Rant on The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

So, I’m just going to say it straight off: I’m not a very good reviewer in most cases. When I read a book, I usually have one of three reactions—I love it to death, I absolutely hate it, or it was so flat that it made no impact on my memory as a reader or a writer. Before the Escapists think that I’m going to give any book a decent, professional review, I thought I would clear up that what I’m best at is fangirlish rambles.
For most of the summer so far I’ve been sitting around procrastinating or planning Escapism. A couple of days go Escapism became public, so to speak, and I found myself faced with the dilemma that I hadn’t read anything recently enough to review it. I had a few books sitting around, as well as a summer reading list and a perfect order in which I intended to read them, but I think I’ve learned by now that I can’t plan what books I read in complete order. If I try to go through them as in a checklist—unless it’s a series, of course—I just find myself squirming away from all the books on the pile and I never get anything read.
Yesterday I realized I needed something to review and I needed it fast. I couldn’t wait to get past 30 theology books before arriving at something interesting for a blog. So I grabbed something out of my summer reading pile that looked to be short and sweet (just in case my review needed to come quickly) and something that, luckily, I’d wanted to read forever now.
Since I fail at writing reviews, my original plan was to jot down my reaction at the end of each chapter until the very end. Here’s as far as I got:

For Escapism, I have decided to try a different method of reviewing. Instead of dry commentary as soon as I finish the last page, I want to express to you how I go living or dying in the book while it’s going. This is a special experiment of mine and one I will be trying for the first time on a book I’ve heard lots of good things about.

Page 1, 4:57 pm

I’m ready to go, I’m heading off…

Page 10, 5:13 pm

The first chapter was simply engrossing and I admire the writing style so much, how innocent the main character sounds and how vivid the emotions were. In just 10 pages. I’m afraid this book is going to be too short. I already live in it, almost.

Page 20, 5:32 pm

Aww I just love this book so much but I can’t be 20 pages in already!

Yeah. Fail. Past that point I got engrossed in the book and there was no way I could stop reading after every chapter just to write down one sentence on the effect it was having on me.
I’ll finally get to the point now: You can see through the twists and turns of my epic fail of a review that I seriously got sucked in by this book. It felt so fresh and different to my reader’s eye. A lot of it was due to the fact that it was written from the point of view of a child, with such innocence that it made a widely known topic seem new to me.

It made the Holocaust feel like something strange and new I’d barely stumbled on. At the end of the book, I felt the horror dawn on me for what seemed like the first time, like this was an issue I’d barely learned about. The innocence made it clear how naive the main character was to reality. The reader in my head felt a little mystified as well, yet there was still this strange little window that kept me alarmed–the horrible little awareness that this was real, and part of me deep in my heart knew how bad this really was in contrast to what Bruno saw.

Reading this book gave me a feeling that was great yet awful at the same time. The events woven together made a story that will impact me forever. I want to write a book like this someday.

For just a while I lived in this short, powerful book. I looked down on these horrible things from a window high above, not quite comprehending the scale of it; not grasping the real amount of evil present in the world around me. I think this is fitting because we never will be able to grasp it, not even as adults, not even as historians, not even as victims or survivors. It’s a tragedy beyond comprehension, and in a way, we’ll always see it kind of like children: We know it’s bad, but how bad? Where does the bad end and the good begin? We’ll grasp it a little, and we’ll try to grasp it more, but it’s beyond us.
This book is truth woven in the form of words. Definitely something I lived, and I will certainly read it again when I want to escape for a bit.
I didn’t love everything about the book–mostly it was the ending. While I know some people adored it, I believe could have been handled better. But that’s not till pretty much the last page, and I think the events leading up to that slight smudge in the art make it definitely worth the read. If you’re like me and you see this book in stores all the time and just pass it by, don’t. This is a great place to go if you’re looking to get away.

I just lent it to a friend and I’m going to suggest it to other people forever. It’s a great read and I give it 4/5 stars.

Go read it.

2 thoughts on “Mariella’s Fangirlish Rant on The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

  1. This is a gorgeous review. There was little spoilers (that I could see, given I've already read it) and I loved that you pretty much echo everything I thought about the book :D Except for the ending I thought it was perfect. The only thing I didn't like was sometimes the point of view was too naive for my liking but not too much. Beautiful :) I hope all your reviews are this amazing Mariella.

  2. In the blog archive it reads "Mariella's Fangirlish Rant on The Boy in the Strip…" and I immediately thought "MARIELLA MET A BOY IN VEGAS."XDLove the review. I've always meant to read the book, but after I started watching the movie and had to leave the room because I was crying so hard, I thought MAYBE it might not be a good idea.But I think your review is pushing at me to at least try it :)

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