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 Book Reviews of Fantasy Lover (The Dark Hunter Series), by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Fantasy Lover, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, is Book 1 of what became the The Dark Hunter Series of Books. What exactly is a Dark Hunter?

Sherrilyn Kenyon’s website has the answer we seek:  “You want to know what a Dark-Hunter is? We are what the intro says. We’re Mad, Bad and Immortal. We’re ancient warriors with attitudes who fight rough, and play hard.”

Now I ask you, if that’s the author’s official  summary of the Dark Hunter series, then what need is there for a scathing review? Nevertheless, if you need more insight, here’s an official video to promote the 12th book in the Dark Hunter series Archeron.

Based upon what I’ve read, its good pulpy romantic vampire fiction, “good” being a relative term, and “pulpy” not.  Imagine an unchaste version of The Twilight Saga.  I don’t what it is about the women who like to read the Dark Hunter series and these types of novels, but the underlying theme seems to be that its easier to love a man when he’s dead.  These Scathing Book Reviews of Fantasy Lover think the series is best classified as “comedy” or “horror”:

This odious books is one of the WORSE reads I’ve ever come across. I am astonished it was published, let alone, rated so highly by other readers.

…and:

All I can say is WOW!…After reading this book, all I could do was laugh (and feel my IQ evaporating).

…and:

This book is supposed to take place in 2002 and yet one finds one self being thrown right back to the 80’s where we (let us just admit it) had no style, no taste, no understanding of quality what so ever.

…and:

Goofy, thinly disguised porn, but sort of fun if what you want is sex scenes. More “hot” than plot–Just don’t buy it for character development.

…and:

I could have overlooked [the] ridiculous characterizations were it not for the dialogue. At one point, the 29 year old heroine admonishes the hero with this crushing setdown: “Whoa, Buster!” Or how about this gem? “Holy Guacamole!” I know one woman who says things like that–my 84 year old grandmother. No sexy, current, PhD speaks like this. I know, because I am a sexy, current PhD.

…and at least one redeeming quality:

l will tell you what was good about this book. The hero is a Spartan Warrior. Awesome! Remember Brad Pitt as Achilles in “Troy”?

…and some good points, with the inevitable bemoaning of American literary standards:

There are so many things wrong with this book, I don’t even know where to start. Right away I have a problem with a sex therapist who hasn’t had sex in years and has never had a satisfying sexual experience. Perhaps she should consider some other line of work?… Honestly, I can’t understand the American reading public. Why is this book such a hit? Is this what passes for literature these days? Have our standards dropped so low? It is embarrassing.

Scathing Book Reviews of Eragon (Book 1 of the Inheritance Cycle), by Christopher Paolini

I remember when Eragon, by Christopher Paolini first gained media attention. It was back in 2003 when all things Harry Potter dominated the book publishing world and news, and the idea of yet another unknown author creating a breakout book just seemed made for the news cycle. Plus, the fact that Paolini was in his teens just added to the newsworthiness.

Things have died down since then, probably in no small part to the Eragon Moviethat was released, which was underwhelming to most, especially devout Eragon fans. Even so, Eragon has more than 2800 book reviews on Amazon as of August 2008. My days of fantasy reading are behind me now, but I can appreciate the enthusiasm behind “fannish” love for the Inheritance Cycle book series, and any book with a Dragon in it can get what’s left of my old 13 year old blood flowing. The readers who left these Scathing Book Reviews of Eragon, however, seem to wish that Bard of Dale was around with a well-strung arrow:

Arya is a beautiful elf princess that Eragon must rescue. Of course, he does. And everyone’s thinking “Oh, that had me on the edge of my seat!” Look, you can go play Super Mario Bros. and find the exact same idea: Mario rescuing Princess Peach. Link rescuing Princess Zelda. It IS possible, you know, to have a good book without a damsel in distress.

…and:

The prose is an unholy mish-mesh of melodramatic simple sentences… The story telling doesn’t involve characterization, so much as the descriptive details you might expect to find on a Dungeons and Dragons character sheet.

…and:

If someone had assembled a checklist of every fantasty cliche ever used in any work of fantasy ever written by anyone anywhere, it would’ve turned into this book.

…and:

Lordy – I couldn’t get past the first chapter.

…and:
Knowing nothing of the history of the book, I dived into my first copy and hit the bottom within the first chapter. Dumbstruck, I put the book down, wondering why anyone would have agreed to publish this dreck, which seemed to be the transcription of a rather boring gaming session with a lackluster dungeonmaster… In the end, I could bear no more. I placed both copies for sale on Amazon, sending one to a child in Alaska and the other to a reader in Portland. As for the child in Alaska, I suspect this will have been a welcome gift. To the reader in Portland, I am sorry.

…and:

Sure, the cover’s attractive, and sure, the author was a teenager when he wrote it — the book seems to have become a bestseller on those two factors alone, because it definitely wasn’t literary merit that’s caused it to sell so well.

…and:

I think I can honestly say this is one of the worst books I have ever read. If Paolini ever learns to stop manipulating his characters, come up with his own storylines, and cut out all annoying, irrelevent descriptive passages, he might become a decent writer.

…and:

Whatever editor green-lighted this book should never again work in the publishing industry.

…and:

Wow. I like pulp fantasy as much as the next die-hard fantasy lover (think Goodkind, Brooks, etc.). This book doesn’t even stand up to those admittedly mediocre books. It’s just bad. I can’t tell you how horribly dissapointed I was with this book. It was just…..bad.

…and the requisite mourning of American taste in reading:

Shame on the American public for having such poor taste in (fantasy) literature… This book is nothing more than modern hack writing at its worst.

Scathing Book Reviews of the Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is many things to many people. To some, a fun fantasy. To others, the cornerstone of their reading list. To an unfortunate few, a way of life, and to Peter Jackson, an admirable achievement and cash cow.

I read the Lord of the Rings for the first time back about 1982, and my first thought was “Wow, this is amazingly similar to The Sword of Shannara!”. After I got a bit older I realized it was actually vice-versa. I’ve probably read it about 2 times since, once after the Peter Jackson Film came out.

Do I like it? Sure, but as I’ve matured, I’ve begun to look at it the way I do “Star Wars” – good, but embarrassing to think I once valued it so highly.  After all, in the end its just a fairy tale. These Scathing Book Reviews of the Lord of the Rings don’t “boo” it, but they’re like Gollum in that they give it a “Hisssssssss….“:

I could barely make it through the first novel. I found myself having to force my way through a sea of overwrought description. Tolkien’s writing style, if one can call it a style, is dull and overly wordy. His characters are flat, especially his female characters, who all just seem to be waiting by the sidelines for the men to come home. I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of them…

…and this from a reviewer that is, shall we say, a bit too well informed about Fantasy novels:

I cannot believe all the hype this series gets, it is a boring, stereotypical fantasy that leaves all its wizards being REALLY old farts with long white beards, diminutive characters in more way then one (Yes, I know that this was a really bad pun)I have never disliked a fantasy other then this one, and I have read more then enough to make this claim (well over 300 books of this genre in the last 5 or so years).

…and:

i cried because i spent seventy dollars for this “classic” edition hearing how good this piece of crap was, so i was like, “hey, why not???” i struggled through the hobbit and the fellowship of the ring before i cried. another reason i cried was reason i cried was because THEY SUCKED!!!!!!!!!! i have read the sword of shannara by terry brooks and even though it followed the same plot, it was a billion times better than this piece of b.s.! I mean, what’s up with those defunktitated songs?!

…and:

This book is not good, it is a neverending story to me. THe beginning was so sucky and did not make you want to read at all. I read Fellowship of the ring. I got to this council part, and i felt like I had had anough. I was like 200 pages through the book and all I had read was how the Hobbit walked through the jungle, and how good hid breakfest.

…and a negative comparison to the “prestigious” Dungeons and Dragons novels:

This book have no depth and noone can compare these with DragonLance ChronicLes or Dark ELf series.

…and:

Scathing Book Reviews of Twilight (Book 1, the Twilight Saga) by Stephanie Meyer

The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer is one of those success stories that every publisher dreams of, and that every writer dreams of as well. One indicator of success? Over 1,800 book reviews of Twilight as of July 2008, for crying out loud! That’s 9 times as many as “The Sound and the Fury”.  If nothing else, that speaks to how deep the fangs are on this sucker, and probably something about the decline of civilization.

The Twilight Saga tells the story of starcrossed love between a woman and a bloodsucker, and no, it’s not the story of Anne Hathaway and her Con-Man boyfriend.

Nope, its that same old story, Boy Meets Girl, Girl Loves Boy, Boy’s Vampiric Blood Lust causes relationship troubles. You have to give kudos to Meyer for finding ways to mix the romantic and horror genres in a way that is profitable and fulfilling to many readers, but according to these Book Reviews, Twilight, and by extension the Twilight Saga, sucks:

Oh God. I don’t know where to start on the 2389471829 things wrong with this book.

…and:

I felt that the story itself was very boring. A girl falls in love with a good looking face to the point where she’s willing to give up all her friends, her family, her life, even her soul. Sounds like an alcoholic or a drug addict. Apparently the boy feels the same way too but he’s more in love with her smell.

…and from the same review:

It’s all pretty shallow. If Edward was fugly would she even care? Edward would be like “OMG Bella I love your smell! Plzbe my g/f!!” And Bella would be all ‘”GTFO Creep!” I glared and grimaced!’ You know I’m right!

…and:

I managed to read the first couple hundred pages, but after that it was so dull, trite and clichéd that I just skimmed along, picking up the important plot points along the way. All one of them.

…and:

It is an insult to Harry Potter to even be mentioned in the same sentence with this book.

…and:

200 pages: Nothing has happened.

300 pages: Nothing has happened.

400 pages: NOTHING HAS HAPPENED.

Are you Kidding me?

…and:

I found it difficult to put the book down — except for those moments when I had to stop and shriek at my friends, “SPARKLY VAMPIRES!” or “VAMPIRE BASEBALL!” or “WHY IS BELLA SO STUPID?” These moments came increasingly often as I reached the climactic chapters, until I simply reached the point where I had to stop and flail around laughing.

…and:

This sappy vampire love story manages to validate my distaste for fantasy novels in a way I never thought possible… I would recommend this book for lovesick teenagers, but no one else should ever bother picking it up.

…and:

If you want your teenage daughters to grow up to have no self-esteem and a lifetime of abusive co-dependent relationships, then go ahead, buy this book.

…and this, short, and definitely not sparkly:

WTF? I wasn’t even able to finish this! How do people read this @$!% for entertainment?

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.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon made quite a splash when it was published in 2000. A serious author writing about comic books? Since the book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, that was, to the literary world, the equivalent of making a silk purse from a sow’s ear. C’mon folks, comic books aren’t that bad if you take them on their own terms. Despite the book’s reputation, these readers found the book to be less than amazing:

. The author must have won the Pullitzer-Prize in a sweepstakes. Give me a break!

…and:

…this book needed editing like Britney Spears needs underpants.

…and:

I’d rather pull all my eyelashes out for fun than read this book. on a side note..maybe the movie will be better!?

…and:

…if florid writing, and purple prose, and adjectives and cliches are your thing, by all means click that shopping cart!!

…and:

The only reason I finished the book is so I could feel qualified to write a review, and express my distaste for the writing.

…and:

In a nutshell, Chabon took the movie Chasing Amy, stripped away the sharp dialogue and provocative examination of courtship and sexual politics and managed to walk away with a Pulitzer.

…and this reviewer, who says he hit the trifecta for not being able to appreciate the book:

I think the one big hindrance I had was that I am not an immigrant, I am not gay, and I don’t hate German people.