by Michael Morpurgo
read from 14 to 20 August 2016
actual rating: 1.5 stars
*warning: review contains spoilers*
Don’t let my new rating system fool you: this is not an awful book. However, at times, I really disliked reading it. That’s why I could only rate this one star.
I had to read this for college, but didn’t have time to post a review yet. I had to evaluate whether this could be used in the classroom and create an activity based on the book. Please note I am going to review my own enjoyment (or lack thereof), not its usefulness during an English lesson.
The main character’s voice seemed targeted towards young children. Therefore, I could not connect to him, the other characters and the story. At the beginning, Thomas is still a boy. I’d say he’s twelve years old, tops. And you can definitely tell. When Thomas gets older, I didn’t even notice it. His voice remained childish.
Thomas claims he loves Charlie and Molly, but actually complains about them most of the time. He puts them on a pedestal, but is constantly jealous of them.
The author felt the need to confirm how straight Thomas actually is. By no means am I saying that children cannot realise their sexuality at a young age. Neither do I claim that kids don’t get crushes. However, there was only one female character (besides his mother) and of course, Thomas ‘loves’ her. His attitude towards her really bothered me. When he thinks he is going to die, he wants Molly to be his last thought. This girl is married to his brother and pregnant with his child! Do I even need to explain how disturbing this is? Thomas never gets over his childhood crush and it is creepy. Furthermore, he never once explains why he ‘loves’ Molly. We know nothing about her personality. One might think the only reason he likes her, is because she is a girl.
Either the characters are portrayed as saints or they were evil villains. That is not realistic. Every person does both good and bad things. I am not even talking about the war here. I know people where capable of doing terrible things then. But let’s talk about Colonel for example. The reason why he hates the Peaceful’s is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. He wants to evict them because a boy with special needs blows raspberries at him?! He actually murders his dog?! Someone call Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful, they are missing one of their writers! It was so dramatic, I couldn’t take it seriously.
I even came across a plot hole: Molly was not allowed to see any of the Peaceful’s anymore. Yet she meets Thomas in secret in the woods, to give him letters he has to hand over to Charlie. Why don’t Charlie and Molly just meet instead? She isn’t allowed to see Thomas either, so this doesn’t make any sense.
If I don’t like a character, I won’t enjoy the story. So, when Charlie died, I did not feel bad for him. I don’t want to blame the victim, but he really could have avoided things getting too far. But no, he chose to be arrogant and insult his sergeant instead. I do think the postcript’s message was beautiful. Unfortunately, this book focussed much more on Thomas’ childhood instead.
conclusion: I was excited to start this, because a lot of people ended up feeling heartbroken after finishing it. Sadly, I did not feel the same, as I did not care about any of the characters and the plot.