Ross's Reviews > Jailbird

Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
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Dec 07, 2008

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bookshelves: fiction
Read in January, 2009 , read count: 1

Jailbird is definitely atypical Vonnegut, so if you're a die hard fan of Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat's Cradle, you might not like this one. In fact, the only thing "typical" about Jailbird is its non-linear narrative.

If you've read a lot of Kurt Vonnegut novels, you know that his non-linear style is haunting and brilliant in some books (Slaughterhouse-Five), but just plan tedious in others (Galapagos). Jailbird falls somewhere in between these two benchmarks.

The first 150 pages are pretty slow, with a murky plot and a self-hating narrator. These chapters have all of Vonnegut's preachiness, but not enough satire to keep you engaged.

The second half of this book is where Vonnegut really hits his stride. He starts to more fully utilize the non-linear structure -- revealing hidden truths and adding numerous layers of complexity to both characters and plot.

Overall this was a great book, with an exceptionally good ending. I would give the second half 4 stars and the first half 2, so that evens out to 3.

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