An avid member of the Hitler Youth in 1940s Vienna, Johannes Betzler discovers his parents are hiding a Jewish girl named Elsa behind a false wall in their home. His initial horror turns to interest—then love and obsession. After his parents disappear, Johannes is the only one aware of Elsa’s existence in the ...more
The story reads slow and steady but don't get me wrong, it is a very strong and powerful slow burn. You will feel all of it.
The protagonists, Johannes and Elsa, are thrown together unexpectedly into a dependent type relationship. Johannes and Elsa's "relationship" is an enigma to the ...more
It started off okay, then it got pretty good. At a mid-way point however, after the parents are no longer involved in a larger part of the story, it really started to suck. From there it quickly got worse. The closer it neared the end the more I started doing things like skipping paragraphs, or jumping to find the next bit of dialogue & skipping other text. Then I'd skip a page or 2 before starting in again. If I hadn't...more
This book is not for me.
And maybe it's not for you, either, unless you crave sentences that are about as tasty as burned oatmeal.
That said, if you happen to be one of those pesky readers who is sensitive to misplaced modifiers, then reading this novel will be less like eating burned oatmeal, and more eating old eggshells.
My take is that this is almost two books. The first two-thirds of the book are filled with intriguing, page-turning plots and interesting characters. The last third, however, is a bit strange, and that's when the book begins to wander and drag rather heavily.
The themes of truth/lies, imprisonment/freedom, and all the ways in which the human mind adapts to extreme circumstances are ...more
The WWII backdrop is present enough to provide an environment of angst and oppression yet remains all the same ...more
When I saw this was to be made into a movie, i expected a lot from it but unfortunately is disappointed.
The first 1/4 was really interesting, learning more about the Hitler youth, more about the ideologies and what that did to the family. However, from then on I felt it really dragged and ...more
This is a VERY dark comedy, with a narrator that isn't so much unreliable as delusional but you know he is delusional because you're not a Nazi.
This review/rating probably isn't fair since I was hoping for a ...more
The dramatic possibilities are endless: a young boy gets caught up in the "exciting" brownshirt culture of 1930s Austria as the rise of Hitler promises the citizens greatness, military success, and ethnic purity for their superior race. The young man's parents, by contrast, are not at all sympathetic to the Nazi agenda, and this causes severe tensions in the house. Then Johannes discovers his ...more
That premise juxtaposes a young boy in Austria at the start of the Second World War who is an enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth, with parents that are quietly resisting the war to the extent that they conceal a Jewish ...more
3.5 stars - An eerie and darkly humorous portrait of the absurdity of war and the ignorance of hate, that grew increasingly disturbing as Johannes' story was revealed. Very weird and very memorable.
I won this from a ...more
The date finished is really the date I gave up. Life is too short to force yourself to read a book that doesn't deserve it.
I was bored in the beginning, stayed bored in the middle and as I neared the end the boring was getting so bad that I had to stop.
The book wasn't that bad in the beginning when the parents were alive. Reading about the struggle of the boy not knowing who was hiding in the house, what was going ...more
Though it has very different setting (WW2 in Austria instead of contemporary US), I enjoyed Caging Skies in different ways but with the same intensity.
The "duel" between protagonists Elsa and ...more
Beneath that, a deeply disturbing exploration of power, dominance, unrequited love or lust, and misogyny.
Leunens brilliantly maintains the boy’s childlike justifications for his monstrous actions throughout the narrative, while making the ...more