Well guys, it’s been an interesting six months. Having thought this over a lot, I’ve decided to change the format from chapter-by-chapter/readalong entries, to straight review posts. Mainly because I don’t especially like the slower pace needed for it, and also because it gets awkward when there’s not much actually going on in a chapter. But anyway, let’s finish this bad boy and get a layout change.
So, what did I think of All Quiet on the Western Front? As a case for anti-war sentiment, it’s fantastic. As a straight novel, I’m not sure it quite ticked all the boxes for me.
Regarding story, it does read well. The tone is very well handled and there are several very memorable and harrowing moments, bar the odd strange moments (the screaming horses, for example). It’s linear and easy to read, which I suppose helps to convey a message. So it’s not the story that I have issues with.
Characters? Well, this is where I get a bit irritated. The relationships between the group are fantastic, what with the close wartime camaraderie and the soldiers’ humour. The problem I have is that they all kind of blur into one figure, they don’t really have enough personality to stand by themselves as characters. This is why whenever one of them died, I would get sad about it (admittedly) but not as sad as I would have been if I’d known them more intimately as people. It made the deaths seem a bit emotionally manipulative in hindsight, which, again, I suppose was to help convey a message but if an author is setting out to manipulate my emotions, I’d like it to be a little less obvious by not killing off what are effectively mooks in the end.
Overall, a very powerful novel, but not necessarily one I’d re-visit.
Next review: Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence.