Scathing Book Reviews of Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut is a book that I read by choice, and after I read it, I had two reactions.  The first was “huh?” and the second was, “I’m only 18.  I guess I’m not mature enough to appreciate it.  Well, I reread it recently, and while my first reaction was still “huh”, my second reaction was instead “The sixties were as weird as they say they were.”  While you’ve got to love a book with any character named “Montana Wildhack”, how they adapted this into a Slaughterhouse Five Movieis beyond me, but any movie with Valerie Perrine in it (Miss Tessmacher!!!!!) is worth a look.

Look, Kurt Vonnegutseemed like a really sweet guy when he was alive, and how can you not appreciate an author who cameoed as himself in the Rodney Dangerfield movie Back to School?  However, as much as I appreciate the art and creativity that went into Slaughterhouse Five, I can’t appreciate it as a “good read”.  

Leave out the stuff about the aliens and stick to Dresden and the POW stuff and I can hang with it, but Billy Pilgrim as a middle-aged guy having a nervous breakdown and maybe or maybe not being sent to a different world as the male pair of humans on exhibit at an Alien Zoo?  As they say in Mandarin – “Ay yuh!”  In Yiddish that would be “Oy Vey”.  In the “Dark Hunter” series “Holy Guacamole!” and where I come from “You gotta’ be sh*tting me”.

Here are some Scathing Book Reviews of Slaughterhouse Five that indicate the real slaughter was of Vonnegut’s reputation:

It is a novel that is ripe for discussion in a high school or college lit class that will excite the professor and utterly confuse and bore the student.

…and:

…With all due respects to the author, this is the WORST book I have ever read in my life. It is disjointed and hops all over the place. There’s no continuity at all. The prose is terrible. The back cover says it is funny without laughing, splendid art, a book without tears. Wrong! I am actually crying: that I paid so much money for this. I gritted my teeth to finish reading this book.

…and:

I finally got around to reading it recently. It is appalling that this is considered a classic and that it is studied as an example of American literature. I am especially amazed that this book is studied in English courses across America. Message to students: Question the judgment of any teacher who presents this as an example of anything other than worthless …that should have never been published.

…and:

Slaughterhouse-Five is one of those rare sorts of books whose total lack of any merit whatsoever is inexplicable in the face of its generally agreed upon status as a world classic. Had this fatalistic, dewy-eyed tripe not been written during the escalation of ‘Nam and the sudden moral ambiguity pervading American letters at the time, it would, honestly, never have made it close. This is sad. The literati have doubtless showered numerous accolades at its feet, though what, for instance, is there to celebrate in this pure dreck?

 

…and:

I’d like to tell anyone who thought it was overly strange and disjointed, I agree! So it goes… some enjoy classics like this, some do not. My english teacher told me I took it too seriously. All I have to say to him is, “Po-tee-weet!”

…and:

I might have liked it better in college when being cynical and blase was cool.

…and this review, which seem familiar from other reviews of “classics”:

I prefer Daniele Steele, and there’s no basis for telling me I’m wrong. Vonnegut is no better or worse than Daniele Steele!

…and, finally the true explanation Slaughterhouse Five’s unique style:

I’m a freshman in high school, and I was relieved when my English G/T (Lyceum) teacher confirmed my suspiciouns that Kurt Vonnegut was, in fact, high.

Scathing Reviews of Watchmen by Alan Moore

Watchmen, by Alan Moore is an award-winning graphic novel currently being adapted into a “Watchmen Movie” by Warner Brothers. We will all know this and more by the time the Studio’s marketing machine finishes it job, and will no doubt be giving each other Watchmen DVDs during Christmas 2009, and probably even Watchmen Watches.

I read Superhero comics back when it was originally published, and finally read it in the 1990s, whilst sipping a Grande Mocha at my neighborhood Barnes & Noble. My impression? To use a fanboy term – “Meh”. I appreciate the effort, and understand its industry impact, but I think its a bit overpraised. Here are some other Scathing Reviews of Watchmen that would encourage you not to Watch the Watchmen:

There are people around who insist on comparing this stuff to great works of literature. I wonder if they ever read any.

…and:

The art is subpar, the cliches glaring, and the “mature humor” nearly as subtle as Roseanne.

…and:

The artwork is gross and uninteresting, the characters, at least in the first 60 pages, are completely boring, uninteresting and hollow. And there’s not a moment of comic relief.

…and:

The story was incredibly average. The art was mediocre at best. Alan Moore’s writing is eloquent but an eloquently written boring story is still boring.

…and:

Teenagers, poorly-read and possessing malnourished tastes in prose, [are] predictably awestruck… They thought it was ‘realistic’; they thought this was ‘great literature’.

…and:

I did not care about the characters at all. Who cares! Oh boo hoo I am a brooding super hero. Feel my pain?

…and:

It is the kind of thing that is trying sooo hard to be deep and witty, but fails miserably because of a lack of ANY REAL STORY… Moore seems to want to remind you on every frickin’ page how clever his “real super heroes” idea is. First of all it ain’t and secondly WE GET IT ALREADY NOW DO SOMETHING WITH IT.

…and, for what I hope is the first and last time that I know of, a link between Citizen Kane and Watchmen:

I would not really call The Watchmen the “Citizen Kane of graphic novels.” It is more like Tarentino’s movie, Pulp Fiction, multiple plot lines, hip references, and plenty of gory violence and power trip fantasies to satisfy a basically adolescent audience.

Scathing Book Reviews of Battlefield Earth, by L. Ron Hubbard

Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard is a book that I confess, I read back in High School, lo these many moons ago. I recall thinking of it as “entertaining pulp”. At that time, Scientology had yet to make any headway in Hollywood, so buying the book had no undertones of furthering a fringe “religion” or contributing to the humiliation of Katie Holmes, or damage to Oprah’s couch. Would I recommend it to anyone? It has its entertaining qualities, but these reviewers think this glorified Pulp Novel should have remained pure paper pulp:

How in the world did this become a science fiction “classic”? This is drivel, junk, crap! Is it only Scientologist propoganda that keeps this book in print?… The writing is plain bad, written in the style of a high school student. I still gag thinking about it.

…and:

Afterwards I felt bloated, regretful, and more than a little embarrassed; the same bundle of shame and discomfort that might come from an overindulgence in ice-cream. Several years later I was diagnosed with biochemical depression and I can say that finishing this book was one of my first symptoms.

…and:

What makes this book so bad? [Everything.] It contains rifts of reasoning that would defy Evel Knievel.

…and:

The amount of 5 star reviews here [at Amazon] had me at first expectant that the book would be good, but after the first page of this… monstrosity… I have no doubt that every positive review on this site is written by one of Hubbard’s brainwashed followers.

…and:

*My God*. This book should be used as an example of what happens when the author is trying to fill pages rather then minds.

…and:

I’m not sure what kept me turning pages. I guess there must be some sort of literary masochist at the center of my soul. Maybe it was disbelief that something this bad could make it to print, and people would buy it; I was searching for enlightenment…. Didn’t find it.

…and:

Hubbard’s self-agrandizing introduction is much more entertaining than the book itself, so do yourself a favor and stop there.

…and they say you can’t judge a book by its cover? This Battlefield Earth review begs to differ:

…look at the latest cover art. It shows a burly man with a mullet and eight-pack abs. I’m guessing it’s the main protagonist. He is looking straight at you while paying absolutely no attention to the lasers he’s firing in random directions for no reason whatsoever. It is almost as ambitiously corny as the story itself. They say to never judge a book by its cover. Battlefield Earth may very well be one of those rare exceptions.

Scathing Book Reviews of Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a book that we’re all familiar with, and has become something of a cultural touchstone. It’s not quite Science Fiction, though its set in “the future”, and unlike most Dystopian works in that it has a semi-happy and hopeful ending. Nevertheless, Fahrenheit 451 left these reviewers feeling burned:

All books begin with a premise and this one also ended there. Compared to Orwell’s 1984 and similar works, this novel is teen romance…. With all respect to the esteemed Mr. Bradbury, it reads more like Futurama.

…and:

If Bradbury wanted us to realize the importance of books, the LEAST he could do was make this book SEMI-interesting!

…and:
The author has a good idea. We should read instead of watching TV, but if this book is one of the choices you had better turn the TV back on.

…and:
who cares about a firefighter who burns book. now come on, i could write a book, about books,ten times better then that. maybe if the books had names and talked then maybe it would of caught my attention.

…and:

I have infinite patience when I am personally pretentious, self-absorbed, and dull. I don’t have the same patience when I read books that are that way, though.

…and:

This book is read is really depressing, but if you like that feeling, please feel free to read it.

…and this, from a reviewer who “took a shot at writing”:
I took this book with me to rifle practice and i shot at this instead of the target. I got busted but hey it was worth it. Mail me if you want a picture of my shooting.

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is one of those books that lurked around the edge of my awareness for years, if only because of the unique title. Its aged pretty well, given that its original publication date was in the mid 1980s, and I’m sure someday it will be turned into a movie. Its considered a “Modern Science Fiction Classic”, and Card certainly made a good living out of it, with the requisite sequels, samequels and prequels that successful genre books seem to generate. But for these reviewers? Game Over:

It is an insult to the great sci-fi books like the STAR WARS series.

..and:

To me, this is what gives SF a bad name: juvenile militaristic rubbish with religous propagandist underpinnings; stereotypes instead of characters, a by-numbers plot; no depth, no complexity, no intelligence.

…and:

Let’s see if I can do some serious damage to my reviewer rating here. This must truly be the most overrated book in the entire science-fiction canon. Card writes prose with the vocabulary of a moderately intelligent adolescent, and since “adult acting kids” kids (in the most generous sense) constitute all the major characters of his book, that’s who most tends to love this novel. And for all the older readers who think Ender’s Game is the greatest thing since sliced bread, well, I guess some of us started our second childhoods a tad early. The best thing about the book is probably the whole subplot about Ender’s evil brother and loving sister, and trust me, that ain’t saying much.

…and:

It’s like enduring a root canal in slow motion. Without benefit of anesthesia. While the dental assissant reads aloud the latest celebrity gossip congealing around Paris Hilton.

…and:

The idea of a 6 year-old military genius is absurd. And if there was one, the idea that the people of power would put a child in command of anything is even more absurd. Does Card know any human beings? Can’t tell from reading his book.

…and:

It’s kind of like Harry Potter goes to space, but with much less thought and writing talent.

…and:

This was the first and last Orson Scott Card book that I will ever subject myself to read.

…and:

God almighty, I had to read this fantasy scifi book for a book club, and I’m lucky I didn’t strangle myself.

…and:

The one thing better than Ender’s Game is 17 hours of eye surgery.

…and:

Ender Wiggin is a weenie. What more can I say?

…and:

It could be retitled “Recess goes to Space”.

…and:

Hungry for more? Here’s a very serious take on Ender, and not a very kind one.

Scathing Book Reviews of Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land is probably both Robert Heinlein’s most famous work and catchiest title. But let me tell you, if you’re a young adolescent reading his famous juvenile science fiction novels and you come across this -old RAH can never be read the same way again. It’s not MY favorite Heinlein novel (I have a soft spot for Citizen of the Galaxy) and apparently, not these reviewers’ favorite either. Grok these Scathing Book Reviews of Stranger in a Strange Land and you’ll want to remain a Stranger to the novel

The repetition of the word “Grok” and “Groking” made me wacky. “I Grok You”, “That’s Grok delicious”, & “I feel Groky”. Get the picture.

…and:

Grok this: Rotten and inconsistent read. Waste of time.

…and:

In Stranger, people sat around and talked. Sometimes they had sex. A few people got killed by magic. NOTHING HAPPENS IN THIS BOOK.

…and:

Dated, Boring, Bad and the novel equivalent of “Barbarella”…

…and:

The time I spent reading this book is time out of my life I will never get back; do you “grok” that?

…and a three for the price of one review:

You know, this author never ceases to amaze me. I read Starship Troopers and though it couldn’t get much worse. Time Enough for Love proved me wrong. Then I started reading this “masterpiece” and was proven wrong once again.

…but perhaps most damning!!!:

Stranger in a Strange Land was the N’Sync of its time.

Scathing Book Reviews of Dune, by Frank Herbert

What can one say about Duneby Frank Herbert? Well, it made for an embarrassingly bad moviestarring Sting and Kyle Maclachlan, but beyond that, it’s considered a Science Fiction classic, and has influenced genre authors ever since it was first published in the 1960s.

It’s a little dry for my tastes if you know what I mean, but these Scathing Book Reviews of “Dune” find it downright arid:

Clumsy writing, heavy-handed symbolism, self-righteousness, unbelievable dialogue, characters even a comic book would blush at. A book that insults the intelligence at every level.

…and:

A friend told me that DUNE was different from the run of the mill sci-fi endless spillage of adverbs and adjectives. After three chapters of the most tedious and unnecessary descriptions of the tiniest details I decided he didn’t know what he was talking about.

…and:

After 10 pages everybody could guess the end.

…and:

Never have so many dreadful Science Fiction cliches been brought together in one book. Ghastly.

…and:

This book brought me near suicide. I was so depressed after reading this pie that I wanted to go eat a goat.

and perhaps the ultimate insult:

Prose that would make a Dungeons and Dragon novel blush…