Tuesday, October 23, 2007

All Quiet on the Western Front

Erich Maria Remarque's 1929 novel of the First World War is hard to read. I don't understand why adolescent boys are so fond of this kind of fiction. It's brutal. Do they expect something of the "glory" of war? If so, they will not find it in this book. Remarque starts out with food, latrines, and boots. WWI was fought in the trenches, and was devastating to the soldiers. We see all of this-- the gas, the bombs, the illness. Written in German, it is an especially good lesson that the politics in a war don't matter that much to the people who lose the most. Soldiers are soldiers, no matter what nationality, and they are doing what they have been told to do. This is a haunting book, especially since it deals with a war fought 90 years ago. Apparently, we have not learned much in that time. The length of this book makes it suitable for stronger readers; the subject matter is delicately, if powerfully handled.

On the "Just didn't do anything for me" list:
Wollman's Switched: too much MySpace talk, implausible plot.
Casely's The Kissing Diary: no one asks for divorce books, generally too much information.
Chases' So Not the Drama: too many characters, too many plots, nothing pulled me in. HS?

That said, I did read about half of each one, since I had a girl not like Alanna: The First Adventure because it was boring. Once she read the entire first chapter, she was hooked. I can only like about 1/4 of the books I read-- it's all I can afford for the library!

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm...just came across your blog and was tempted to comment!

    I dont know whether "All Quiet..." really qualifies as a young adults book.Its is like you said, strong stuff - but also very sophisticated. We are brought up to think of the nation-state as superior to all. The book demolishes that ideal.

    PS - Good luck with the other readings.