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  • Slaughterhouse-Five

  • By: Kurt Vonnegut
  • Narrated by: James Franco
  • Length: 5 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (597 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Slaughterhouse-Five is the now famous parable of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran and POW who has, in the later stage of his life, become "unstuck in time" and who experiences at will (or unwillingly) all known events of his chronology out of order and sometimes simultaneously.

Traumatized by the bombing of Dresden at the time he had been imprisoned, Pilgrim drifts through all events and history, sometimes deeply implicated, sometimes a witness. He is surrounded by Vonnegut's usual large cast of continuing characters (notably here the hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout and the alien Tralfamadorians, who oversee his life and remind him constantly that there is no causation, no order, no motive to existence). The "unstuck" nature of Pilgrim's experience may constitute an early novelistic use of what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder; then again, Pilgrim's aliens may be as "real" as Dresden is real to him.

Struggling to find some purpose, order, or meaning to his existence and humanity's, Pilgrim meets the beauteous and mysterious Montana Wildhack (certainly the author's best character name), has a child with her, and drifts on some supernal plane, finally, in which Kilgore Trout, the Tralfamadorians, Montana Wildhack, and the ruins of Dresden do not merge but rather disperse through all planes of existence.

Slaughterhouse-Five was hugely successful, brought Vonnegut an enormous audience, was a finalist for the National Book Award and a best seller, and remains four decades later as timeless and shattering a war fiction as Catch-22, with which it stands as the two signal novels of their riotous and furious decade.

©1969 Kurt Vonnegut (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"James Franco is an inspired choice as narrator for this anti-war classic. While still young, he still manages to sound world-weary.... Franco has fun with the offbeat characters and Vonnegut's quirky text but keeps the overall tone thoughtful.... Franco's reading gives the 1960s classic a freshness that will appeal to both new listeners and Vonnegut's many fans." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about Slaughterhouse-Five

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Excellent detail and black humour

I thought James Franco's voice and readiig style suited this book perfectly. An interesting and engaging alternative treatment to the topic of war , especially those who survive it.

6 people found this helpful

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Great original theme and style

loved it especially the alternate title The Children's Crusade and the dedication to Mary O'Hare.

2 people found this helpful

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Good to fall asleep to

James Franco tends to talk in a lazy monotone, which may present a challenge if you are planning to stay awake during this.

1 person found this helpful

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Another classic story written by an old white dude

Interesting phrasing and perspective, understandably a classic with such an engaging story, however as such is noticeably dated and focuses almost solely on white men, with a quite frankly offensive approach to writing any other group of humans. Referred to one woman as "a beautiful invitation to make babies" and essentially spent all the adjectives painting one dimensional moronic female characters. Honestly I was pretty disappointed as I've heard many great things about this novel. Do better.

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  • Ben
  • 06-05-2021

Beautiful story

Francos monotone is a terrible fit for this amazingly told story. Vonnegut was a genius.

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Amazing

It took me a while to get used to the time jumps, but once I did it was amazing. James Franco was perfect as the narrator. he needs to do more audio books.

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Skip This One

I got this book hoping for something as compelling as The Sirens of Titan. Sadly this book fell very short for my personal taste. The book comes across like an A.I. created it, this may sound weird but if you've ever heard artificial intelligence try and piece together a narrative its oddly similar... broken time lines, weird repetition and no highs and lows.

The book is suppose to be a commentary on how horrible war is, it succeeds at this in the flattest and mildest way possible. I'd much prefer audio books narrated by the author or a voice talent I don't recognize. I only consciously recognized it was James Franco three or four times during the entire book which was a win. I have nothing against the actor, but, it does pull you out of the Prose.

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Terribly good

A joy! Deservedly a classic, performed flawlessly with pathos. I can imagine the never to be Del Toro/Kaufman film with precision.

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Brilliant story, brilliant narration.

Absurd, hilariously satirical and yet profound, Slaughterhouse-Five is one of the greatest novels of the modern age. Although I was initially sceptical of James Franco as narrator, my doubts quickly disappeared and I was very pleased with his reading of the book, which matched the tone beautifully. I found myself laughing out loud at several points in the story and even melancholic at times. This audiobook is a great way of experiencing this legendary story.

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confusing

I didn't get it. Too much jumping around for me also. it was good narration however.

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  • Rhiannon
  • 20-04-2018

Please God, no more James Franco.

Normally, no matter good or bad a book may be, I HAVE to finish it. I have to know how it ends. This book is the exception. It's not so much to do with the Author, but the Narrator. James Franco's narration of the book makes this story virtually unbearable. Honestly, I couldn't even get past the first hour. I'll have to see if there's another narrator for the book.

43 people found this helpful

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  • james
  • 11-12-2018

3.45 stars......mediocre

James Franco narrates Vonnegut’s classic, a tale that takes the listener inside the time traveling mind of Billy Pilgrim, a war vet suffering from PTSD. Franco isn’t a terrible narrator, but he should stick to acting. A good narrator makes all the difference. Vonnegut is a beloved author, and this post-war classic is considered great by many. Unfortunately, I’m in the minority....and so it goes.

Overall rating: 3.45 stars

36 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 20-05-2018

Never let James Franco narrate

I knew little about this book other than it was apparently a must read. The story itself is unique if not confusing until you get the hang of it. Not as satisfying a tale as I would have liked but the flow and form of the story was enjoyable.

James Franco though... you'd think you'd get a decent voice performance out of a film actor. It was like having a high school junior drama student read it to me: apathetic tone, crappy fake accents, limited emotional range. There was barely an audible difference between characters and he sounded SO BORED the whole time. All in all, a real turd of a reading.

I'd recommend the book, just do yourself a favor and find a different narrator.

34 people found this helpful

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  • Screech
  • 16-11-2016

Good story, poor audio & reading

Classic 1960's writing. Terrible 2010 voice. Male vocal fry. Also, levels should have been normalized. Too much gain adjustment required. Kept having to back up position and increase volume to hear what I'd missed. Then, few minutes later, pull out the earbuds to keep from being blasted out.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Walter W. Quinn
  • 05-07-2018

Horrible narration.

One of my all-time favorites novels ruined by a narrator who just sounds bored. Real shame.

64 people found this helpful

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  • illnist
  • 03-03-2017

Don't bother

I loved this book until James Franco butchered it. I suggest having a listen to the preview first. Wish I did.

53 people found this helpful

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  • alan
  • 02-07-2018

Franco ruins this.

Franco's reading made me stop listening in under 10 minutes. Poor performance by him, I will buy the actual text instead.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Shane Fuder
  • 11-03-2017

Not well read

James Franco did a terrible job. Practically monotone. Audible could've gotten anybody to better than this.

48 people found this helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • 22-01-2017

Everything is nothing, with a twist.

I've read Slaughterhouse-Five several times and I'm still not sure I know exactly how Vonnegut pulls it off. It is primarily a postmodern, anti-war novel. It is an absurd look at war, memory, time, and humanity, but it is also gentle. Its prose emotionally feels (go ahead, pet the emotion) like the tug of the tides, the heaviness of sleep, the seduction of alcohol, the dizziness of love. His prose is simple, but beautiful.

Obviously, part of the brilliance of this novel is born from the reality that Vonnegut is largely playing the notes of his own song (obviously, obscured by an unreliable narrator, time that is unstuck, and generous kidnapping aliens). It is the song of someone who has seen horrible, horrible things but still wants to dance and smile (so a Totentanz?).

Emperor, your sword won't help you out
Sceptre and crown are worthless here
I've taken you by the hand
For you must come to my dance

I had to work very much and very hard
The sweat was running down my skin
I'd like to escape death nonetheless
But here I won't have any luck

It is essentially art pulled out of the tension between despair and hope, grief and celebration, love and death. It is a classic not because it has a message about war, but because it has a message about life. Vonnegut aimed at war and hit everything.

92 people found this helpful

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  • Keith
  • 20-11-2015

Don't Quit Your Daytime Job, James

Vonnegut is one of a kind, and if you like that kind, Slaughterhouse Five is not to be missed. However, the same cannot be said about this audiobook. I usually like James Franco as an actor, but I was greatly disappointed with his narration of this book. There was nothing at all remarkable about his voice. He mumbled some of the time, and he sounded bored and listless all of the time. He seemed to be phoning it in.

92 people found this helpful

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  • D. Payne
  • 12-06-2018

Woefully miscast.

This is an all-time great novel, and I've enjoyed more than a few of Franco's acting performances in the past, so I was looking forward to this. Unfortunately, the way Franco has chosen to read the book is frankly soporific.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Simon
  • 05-06-2017

Did I Enjoy it or Experience it?

"Unputdownable", "unmissable", "unreadable" we've seen them all in amongst the many reviews that populate sites like Audible and Amazon. Well how about "unreviewable"? That's pretty much how I'm finding Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five".

Audible have it in the Fiction-Humour section. There is some really black humour in there but particularly in this form with James Franco's laconic drawl it really isn't going to have you searching for the LOL icon. It's often described as sc-fi but although yes there is a race of aliens so it can reasonably have that tag attached to it I wouldn't call it that either. It's also a book about war and here is where, if anywhere, I would settle. After all it was inspired by the author's real experience of World war II and in particular the Dresden bombing. Even if I settle on that though it isn't going to satisfy anyone who wants a detailed account of the awful events that took place there.

My take on it, which is just one of many possible conclusions, is that this is a story of a confused mind left traumatised by life and particularly the sheer inhumanity of the war. It jumps around time but there are clear signposted images of how Bill Pilgrim's personal narrative came about. I don't think the aliens in Vonnegut's story are supposed to be real, they are figments of Pilgrim's tortured imagination designed to reconcile him to what has happened to him. A Three Musketeers candy wrapper, some sci-fi books he adores and the similarities to those stories and so on are cleverly placed.

The result of his time displacement though is that the story is deliberately disjointed and at times the links aren't obvious or indeed even there. As a representation of a troubled mind I think it's excellent and would recommend the book on that basis. Whether that is actually enjoyable though will very much be a matter of taste. I'd say give it a go because it is very, very clever but be prepared that it might not meet your personal taste. I'm still not convinced as to whether I enjoyed it or simply experienced it. The fact that I'm struggling with it in so many ways is as good a reason to recommend it as any though if you want a reading challenge.

44 people found this helpful

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  • jitesh
  • 16-04-2016

story wasn't slaughtered

6 hours of bizarre stories. Well worth a listen made especially pleasing by James Franco.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Dean
  • 11-04-2017

must listen.

I plan to buy it to read it. I don't feel knowing it spoils it at all. it's a very unique piece of work. it's not that it just holds up. it's more now that the time is long passed and the glory of victory and shame of defeat is so set. it's a much more fair way to talk about the war. also a more fair way to talk about a life. can't recommend highly enough.

8 people found this helpful

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  • steven
  • 09-03-2016

Worth every penny

A great book strangely haunting yet amusing in places and Franco's performance is very soothing a mix of dryness and charm

18 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew Dawkins
  • 22-01-2017

A brilliant listen

A fantastic novel read in a touchingly wry way by James Franco. I highly recommend giving it a listen.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Gary W.
  • 28-04-2017

A must listen..

This modern American classic is braught to life by James Franco's naration. If you love great literature, get this book.

5 people found this helpful

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  • S. Lancaster
  • 16-04-2017

As astute and relevant today as it was in 1968.

Vividly read, beautifully written. The madness of war is lampooned with pity and wild imagination.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Wras
  • 03-04-2017

trapped in the amber of this moment.


A book about war and the inhumanity of being human, a timeless time perspective of all the things that keep on repeating the same mistakes with horrible regularity and yet we choose to accept as new phenomena of our very particular time, were we commit very old crimes “So It Goes”.

A sad beautiful tale that is not afraid to expose the ugliest of truth, a desperate attempt at creating a change in a world that is stuck in the amber of its own creation constant war to prove we were right once, or we can sell over there in freedom because we won the war and “So It Goes”.

A classic that is rebellious and confrontative, with anarchic, nihilistic thoughts, to liberate us from complacency and acceptance of the of the status quo, “So It Goes”.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Jack
  • 18-04-2016

loved it

I totally loved it. book is great and Franco is class as per usual. Hopefully he does more.

13 people found this helpful

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