Kurt Vonnegut tried for years to write a book that captured his experience as an American soldier in a Dresden POW camp during the night of bombing that claimed 135,000 lives–most of them civilians–in World War II. He finally does so through the story of Billy Pilgrim, a former soldier who has come unstuck in time, traveling back and forth through moments of his life without any control over his movements. He has also had the unique experience of being abducted by the Trafalmadorians, an alien race which understands time very differently from Earthlings. His story is told in the style of Trafalmadore: brief moments packaged together in an order that makes no sense linearly but can be experienced as a unified whole.
Vonnegut uses time and science fiction to frame an event that can only be grasped with an appropriate backdrop of absurd horror. The story is powerfully told, and is a book that I find I must savor, reading it slowly, taking pauses, and allowing the writing and meaning to fully sink in. It is a great book for adults and older teens who enjoyed The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and/or Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. If you enjoy Slaughterhouse-Five and have not read the aforementioned, you might enjoy them as well.