Sunday, November 29, 2009

Telling the story by its cover - or not

I was browsing the shelves at the library last week and picked up "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" by John Boyne. As usual, I turned it over to read the synopsis on back of the jacket. It was blank. I checked the inside flap for any information about the storyline and found this:

The story of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the jacket, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about.

If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year old boy called Bruno. (Though this isn’t a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.

Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to encounter such a fence.

I was intrigued, and wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading the book. It wasn't until about page 20 that I really figured out what was going on, and by then I was completely hooked. I don't want be a spoiler in case you read it (or rent the movie, which I haven't seen). What an amazing storytelling John Boyne is, using a 'slow reveal' technique to gradual unveil his story. One of the most unique stories I've ever read. I recommend it.

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