This is one of those books that I kept reading even though I was not sure why. It is the good writing, of course, that kept me enthralled. But the story is...unusual. Vonnegut seems to have a warp in the middle of his mind. I admit to being confused constantly all the way through. I would put one piece together and another would get tangled. But then, of course, this book isn't about the story line. It is instead a way for us to look at ourselves and our beliefs.
The country of San Lorenzo is the picture of contrasts. The reason for the country's forbidden religion is extremely humorous in one light, yet makes perfect sense in another for those who don't take any religion seriously. If you are going to believe in nothing, Bokonoism makes as good of sense as anything. And the contrasting philosophy it espouses only makes it more attractive. The physical appearance of the country of San Lorenzo is another major contrast. It has an area of opulence backed up against the slums. The hotel for visitors is brand new. But the punishment for breaking the law is very old - and grisly.
This book is one of many that shows why Vonnegut is a master. It's a fairly short book, but it keeps the reader pulled in. John/Jonah, the narrator, leaps back and forth, telling his story, and then alluding to an outcome in the future (there is that ice-nine stuff...). The reader keeps following to discover what is going to happen next, and why is everyone going to San Lorenzo?
Like other Vonnegut books, this is one best read and discussed in a group. I know I barely skimmed the philosophical surface of it. This is one I would enjoy sitting in a classroom or a discussion group to learn and feel more about it. Then I would appreciate it more than I currently do. It is well worth reading whether you are reading it alone (like me) or for a discussion.
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These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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