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Can this book change our life? -- CATCH-22 reviewed

August 12, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover catch-22 by joseph hellerCatch-22 by Joseph Heller

Reviewed by Isis

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22..."

To be completely clear, there is seldom a time at which a war novel would appeal to me. Ever. They all seem to perpetuate the stereotypes of heroes and villains - he who fights is the one who saves the day, he who dies always dies with honor, so on and so forth for several hundred pages of BORING.

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller, is the exception. The book follows Yossarian, an American soldier stationed in Pianosa during the Second World War. And unlike the war heroes portrayed in a majority of similar novels, Yossarian is determined, above all else... well, not to die. And to be sent home, all he needs to do is to be denounced as insane, which one can do simply by asking. However, there is one issue -- Catch-22. The catch states that if one were insane, one could ask to be grounded; however, in asking, one proves one's sanity, and thus, has to carry out more missions. The catch is paradoxical, and, essentially, impossible to satisfy. So, instead, Yossarian must stay at the army base and complete the ever-increasing number of military missions, analyzing each step of his journey with a critical eye that, it seems, no one else can -- while every other person sees a fight for their country, Yossarian simply sees people trying to kill him. As the book progresses, and the number of men remaining in the compound, not having been shot, caught pneumonia, crashed an airplane into a mountain, or been "disappeared" by the government, dwindles, Yossarian begins to question not only human nature, but what we accept from bureaucracy, what we accept as insanity, and the true state of the world we live in.

It is said that hindsight is 20/20. This novel is written in such a beautiful manner that truly displays all that is learned through war, which, really, is nothing; what comes about from fighting, other than death, destruction, and a complete loss of morality?

This book  is so incredibly insightful (a twinge pessimistic), and can completely alter your perspective about the things we often believe to be definitive: good and evil; sane and crazy; life and death.

Is it an easy, straightforward read? No. The plot is all over the place, which makes the order of events impossible to interpret. Does the book make sense? Sometimes. But will you laugh aloud? Cry a couple tears? Be challenged to comprehend the deeper messages presented? Possibly get so frustrated at times you throw the book to the ground, but be so intrigued that you need to pick it right back up? (Admittedly, I am guilty of such) 

Can this book change your life?

Absolutely, 100% yes.

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