The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne

Carrying my current read (The Passage – a breezeblock of a book!) on the tube to work last week wasn’t a very appealing prospect, so I picked The Boy in the Striped Pyjamasby John Boyne for the commute.

I’m so glad that I did. Having read several glowing reviews I was a bit wary that it would disappoint. In fact it was the perfect book for me to dip into when I had a spare moment because the style and tone is deceptively light given the story’s serious subject matter.

I don’t want to go into too much detail on the plot as the true circumstances of the story are intentionally revealed bit by bit as the book progresses and I wouldn’t want to spoil that experience for others. In brief, the book’s main protagonist is Bruno, a boy of nine whose life is uprooted when he is moved from his home in the city to an isolated place because of his father’s job.

The reader’s perspective is through Bruno’s eyes as he explores his new home and seeks to understand the behavior of the people around him. In the couple of chapters I admit that I felt that the childlike voice was a little contrived, and Bruno himself was a spoiled and irritating! However as  the character is developed I found Bruno became more and more believable and likeable. More cruicially it is his childish innocence which slowly but surely reveals the unpleasant context of the new situation. Boyne uses Bruno’s young voice to pose astute questions about the illogicality of the behaviour of the adults around him.

This is the kind of crossover book that makes me want to read more in this genre. Boyne’s clever narrative makes the serious message in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamasaccessible and yet all the more poignant for being so gentle. I truly think that this is a book that a person of any age could pick up, enjoy and be moved by.

My Rating:

8 out of 10

Have you read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas?

24 responses to “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne

  1. Having seen the film of this novel, I have been thinking about reading this book. So thanks for the review, it has convinced me that I should order this book.

  2. I loved this book. I think you captured the strength of the novel very well. Like you, I was at first irritated by Bruno’s spoiled behaviour and his almost fake childishness, but it really adds strength to the story in the end.

    • novelinsights

      Totally! So funny how you can start feeling one way about a book and change your opinion as it goes. Bruno really did grow on me as I read on.

  3. I loved this when I read a couple of years ago. The film is very good too — I went by myself because I knew I would cry (and I did).

    If you like this, I can also recommend Once and Now by Morris Gleitzman.

  4. Susi (The Book Affair)

    I haven’t read it, but I’ve seen the film. Ever since seeing the film, I’ve been meaning to buy and read the book. I might finally have to rush out and buy it now.

    • novelinsights

      Ha. I always find it a little difficult reading books after watching the movie – I need a time lapse to occur so that I don’t compare too harshly!

  5. I haven’t read this yet but I’ve had it on my shelf for ages. I have heard really good things about it though so maybe it will be time for an airing soon.

    • novelinsights

      It’s a quick read too and easily digestible. Good for when you fancy something light but meaningful all at the same time.

  6. This is a superb book, I am so glad you liked it because if you hadn’t I might have to have reassessed our friendship hahahaha. I have yet to read anymore Boyne but have The House of Special Purpose on the TBR which I think sounds intriguing.

    Like Kim the film made me cry – a lot!

    • novelinsights

      Ooh, is that a new one by him? I think if I see the movie then I will definitely have a bit of a weep.

  7. I thought that this book was brilliant! I loved how the reality gradually dawns on you as a reader and as you said I think it is accessible to many different ages.

    • novelinsights

      Hi Dot, it is great isn’t it. I think it’s really clever how it develops and you get more absorbed in the character and discovery of what is happening with him.

  8. I loved this book! I’m scared to see the film though as I think it will be much more emotional – especially as I know what happens now!

    • novelinsights

      This book seems to have been an outright winner with people (not a bad comment yet!) I know what you mean about the film. The book didn’t make me physically upset but I think on screen the story might.

  9. Glad you enjoyed this one. It´s one of my favorites although Bruno´s innocence seemed a but unlikely to me, but then it was necessary for what happens to make such a strong impression 🙂

    • novelinsights

      I know what you mean. The innocence is a bit contrived at the beginning but it’s also a useful device as you say.

  10. I adored this book when I read it a couple of years back. Not seen the film yet, as I’m always wary that it’ll ruin the book. In light of some of the comments above, I might have to re-assess that.

    Glad you enjoyed the book.

  11. Just popping in to say “Tag!” – on this post;
    Have a go if you’d like!

  12. Pingback: Novel Insights’ May Review « Novel Insights

  13. Pingback: Fateless / Fatelessness, by Imre Kertész | Novel Insights

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