Erin's Reviews > Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
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Jul 03, 12

Read from April 16 to 20, 2012

I enjoyed the beginning of the book somewhat, learning about the main character's struggles to become an Olympic runner. It quickly transitioned into an account of his experiences at war. I had a very difficult time connecting to/caring about any of the characters. (Perhaps the third-person narrative was too distant for me? I felt as though I was just reading a series of facts.) Also, I don't have much interest in war, combat, or airplanes; when I picked up 'Unbroken' I was depending on my love for the characters to be enough of a gripper to keep me engaged, and that just didn't happen. Reading it became more of a chore than an escape, so ultimately I only made it through about a quarter of the book. I wonder if I just needed to hang on a bit longer to fall in love with this book the way that so many others have...
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Comments (showing 1-25 of 25) (25 new)

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Laura I totally agree with you on this point. Many reviewers on here mentioned that the book became more interesting after Louis went to war, but like you, I enjoyed the beginning a lot more -- once the war started, the book became more of a superficial "this happened, then this happened..." And I grew tired of searching chapters I'd already read in an attempt to find characters that had only been cursorily introduced, then mentioned again much later in passing.


message 2: by Erin (new) - rated it 1 star

Erin Thanks for backing me up! :) I was afraid I was just being impatient, but life's too short to read books I don't enjoy for more than 50 pages.


Jeffrey May Is it really fair to rate a book clearly about WWII when you "don't have much interest in it." It would be like me rating a "romance" novel. One reader gave my novel "Where the River Splits" one star, then said she stopped reading after the first 15 pages or so because she "didn't like the style." Why rate it then? Should have stopped reading and gone on to something else, as you indicate in your comment.


message 4: by Kathryn (new) - added it

Kathryn This is neither here nor there other than you are probably too far removed in age to see WWII as real rather than as history. When I was born, it had only been over for about 8 years and until I was in college "the war" meant WWII, not Vietnam. What is important to understand about any period like this one is that it involves real people and real suffering and real change. I agree about not reading books that don't hold your interest. I do, however, think it is unfair to rate a book on an incomplete read. You never know what you might have found in that other 75%. Just my thoughts.


Tommy Reynolds For me, it was all about the experience. I enjoyed the book and as I read I felt their pain and sorrow. When the story ended, I felt satisfied.


message 6: by Nancy (last edited Aug 27, 2012 10:07AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nancy Martin When you say "characters" it is an indication of an attitude in your approach to the book. These are not "characters" but very real people struggling through horrific circumstances. Historical fact/interpretation can not be read the way one reads fiction. Fiction is for entertainment; this is so much more. Entertainment, education, understanding....and an inkling that we would not be living the way we are now, were it not for these remarkable people....a bit of empathy in your approach might make all the difference.


Melissa Oh, I wish you would have held on for a little longer. I agree that the first quarter was more "information" than story, and as I'm used to novels, it was kind of hard for me to get through, but once you get to the event that is core to the book, it becomes much more detailed and the story whisks you away.


message 8: by Erin (last edited Feb 15, 2013 09:09AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Erin I don't have a special interest in war novels or accounts, but that isn't to say that a story that involves this topic or takes place during that era is necessarily a turnoff. Had I cared about the characters, continuing to read wouldn't have been an issue. The book just didn't progress in a way that fostered me as the reader to engage with the characters. I understand why other readers criticised me rating the book when I didn't finish it, but I also think that part of being well-rated is that I WANT to finish it. I did push beyond my initial inclination to put it down, but after 50 pages of that, I didn't see the point.

Thank you all for your respectful feedback. You present interesting points about the book, hanging on to a read beyond hurdles/lulls and how we may differ on our definitions of fair ranking practices.


message 9: by Pat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pat I agree with what Nancy Martin said - this is not fiction; these are not characters. Non-fiction is a series of facts. Stick to fluff if that's your cup of tea. This is a serious piece of history.


message 10: by Erin (last edited Oct 10, 2012 04:47PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Erin Perhaps my rating was harsh; I expected to connect with the people in this book and feel engaged with the main events since reviews claimed that this book was a "page-turner". True history can certainly be engaging, I just didn't feel that in what I read. We are all entitled to our opinion though, and I understand that others may have an entirely different reaction. To say that my response to 'Unbroken' means that I only like "fluff" is unfair and offensive.


message 11: by Pat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pat You are right. "Fluff" was a poor choice of words. I am curious to know if you have read other books of serious history that did hold your interest. What I meant was that perhaps well-researched history is just not your cup of tea.


message 12: by Jeff (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jeff Erin, your attention span coupled with your need to be entertained is reflected by your generation's inability to digest content based information. Perhaps in ten years you should give it another try.


message 13: by Ben (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben How could you not connect with the characters? you learn all about them in beginning of the book. then all this crazy stuff happens to him. Do you remember when he held up the bored for 36 min.


Kathy Well, it just got more disturbing as the book went on and quite frankly, made me hate the Japanese. I can't finish it.


Arpb14 Just wanted to chime in and say that I also had a problem relating to the people in this book. I think the listing facts about the air crafts, etc. detracted from what they were experiencing. I did enjoy the book more after he was lost at sea, but just never got as emotionally involved as I do with other books. I don't believe my opinion or the person who wrote this review should be accused of only reading "fluff" because our opinions may differ from the majority. I very much enjoy other nonfiction accounts of history that I connected much more to.


Kathy I think too that some people can't take such brutality. I would have died on the raft.....


message 17: by Erin (new) - rated it 1 star

Erin Thanks for the support, Arpb14. :) Even had our opinions differed, it is nice to know that people can be respectful and appreciate beauty of multiple perspectives and opinions.


message 18: by Hal (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hal If you're looking primarily for "interesting characters," you should probably stick to faction. It really does sound as if you either don't know or don't care about the horrors that Allied troops faced in WWII. Maybe it's just your age.


Cheye-Anne It makes me sick to think that this mans horrific life story was just too boring for some to continue reading about. What an awful slap to the face of a man who lives every page in that book. This is not fiction, this really happened. On another note, why did the author have to dwell on the other people in the book when she clearly states this was going to focus on Zamperini?


Leonard Rattini Its obvious, you live a clean life without much conflict. I think the author did as good a job as to including her readers to be the proverbial fly on Zamperini's shoulder to experience what he went through. Maybe because I was a military veteran and have a similar type story to tell, I found his story amazing as to what he experienced. I definitely rate it 5 stars!


message 21: by Katie (new) - rated it 1 star

Katie I agree with you 100% I quit about a quarter way in to when reading it became a chore


Sarah Jo I agree that the style was more like a series of facts - but even if the writing didn't pull you in, I don't see how someone could not care about these very real people no matter far removed from them you may be. To say you didn't care for the book is another matter. To say you don't care about these people is a little cold.


message 23: by Marie (new)

Marie i'm having a tough time deciding if i should read this book. i was really excited to get and read it, but some of the comments have made me second guess. maybe i will have to read it just to find out for myself! thanks for the entertainment though!


Tracey Regnold Amazing story, amazing man and amazing writing. Movie is coming out soon, I hope they can make it equally amazing.


message 25: by Alex (new) - rated it 2 stars

Alex Dorobantu Erin, I agree with your assessment. For all the people saying how insulted they are. Clearly, what our forefathers died for in the revolutionary war - freedom of speech - means as little to you as Erin's opinion.

It sure is easy to be a part of the majority and try to put down someone expressing a different opinion isn't it?


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