The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, by Gloria Godino (Avanzado 2, 2009-2010)
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, written by the Irish novelist John Boyne, is a best-seller about Bruno, a nine-year-old boy, son of a Nazi Commandant who moves with his family from Berlin to a remote countryside home next to which a concentration camp is located. At first, Bruno is not happy living there because he misses his friends and his rich (sumptuous) home and over there, there is nobody to play with. Through his window, he can only see hundreds of people, behind a wire fence, all of them wearing striped pyjamas. Then, one day, Bruno meets Schmuel, a Jewish boy. From that moment on, Bruno and Schmuel become friends and their lives will change.
The plot is not overelaborated, because we all know about the atrocities of the Holocaust. From the first chapters we are able to foresee what the ending is going to be like and also how the story line (plot) will be developed, so the book is very predictable.
Regarding the writing style, the first thing I have to say is that the book is written from the child's perspective; that is why the prose is simple and tries to imitate children's language. Descriptions are brief and limited and nicknames and children's expressions abound (for example, Bruno thinks his sister is a "Hopeless Case"). So in this sense it is compelling and a bit contrived.
About the characters, I can say that the descriptions of Bruno's family and of the secondary characters are a bit shallow. In contrast, the author gives more details about Bruno and Schmuel, the main characters. From my point of view, John Boyne has exaggerated Bruno's innocence, ingenuity and childishness, because sometimes, one feels Bruno is younger than he actually is.
Finally, my overall impression is not very positive (favourable), because the book is too short—we can read it in about three or four hours—and a bit boring, because the end is not surprising at all. The plot is typical and a little naïve. Personally, I found the book disappointing—I had great expectations due to the great advertising campaign, guaranteed by the success of the book as a best-seller in bookshops and as a box-office hit in cinemas. So, because of all that, I won't recommend it.