THE BOY AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN – Review by Manas, Queen Elizabeth’s School

boy-mountainThe Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne is a novel set in the period of WW2. It focuses on a boy named Pierrot later known as Pieter and how his life entangled and was affected by the Fuhrer of Germany.

The author beautifully uses moving to different places to provide the structure to the storyline, ending with a full circle. The book starts out with the Pierrot, aged seven, living with his mother in Paris and also ends with him returning to his hometown, now a young man.

This journey is what develops Pierrot’s character and the people he meets along the way some staying with him longer than others. This depicts the ever changing nature of life and how we can never truly know for certain what awaits us in the future.

Boyne cleverly intertwines characters and facts from history into his fictional plot placing the boy at the centre. He accurately uses show don’t tell techniques using Pierrot’s experiences to depict the happenings of the past quite accurately.

The book brings in a variety of emotions both joy and sadness, again through the character of Pierrot but also leaving some to the readers’ interpretation, playing on the idea of morals, of what is right and wrong. It also includes the ideas of family, betrayal, power and corruption, perspective, love, justice and death. Boyne depicts the darkness in the light of the world, vividly, throughout the novel.

Overall, this is a great short novel to read whether you’re interested in history or not. Thus, I recommend this book for all older readers, as it does have some mature content.

 

THE BOY AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN – Review by Mimi, Wren Academy

Iboy-mountain loved the great story of Pierrot and his unusual family, and how his father had come back from the war. I loved that there were no boring bits in this book and that whatever happened in the last chapter the next would stop on the cliff hanger of the first. I could not stop reading this fantastic book and I read it in about a week because I just read and read.

 

THE BOY ON THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN – Review by Eleanor, Wren Academy

The Boy on the Top of the Mountain is about a boy called Pierre who when he moves to Germany changes from the sweet boy he was to the arrogant young man he is today but will he ever find himself?

After Pierre’s mother dies suddenly he is left with no choice but to leave his friends and all he’s ever known and go and live with an unknown relative of his mother’s.

When Pierre arrives in Germany he is taken under the wing of his aunt and told that he should change his name to Pierrot which is a German name. As his aunt tries to keep Pierrot ambivalent to the troubles of the world around him Hitler is having other ideas as he takes Pierrot and trains him up o be an arrogant cruel leader like him – but will Pierrot escape?

I really like this book because the writer has shown it from a different perspective, not of a soldier or a family member but of someone who is watching the war and hopes one day he can be the leader Hitler is. I think this book has a great story line and I would recommend this book to anyone my age.

THE BOY AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN – Review by Saifullah, Queen Elizabeth’s School

John Boyne is known for another book. Most, if not all, people have heard of the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, a classic tale of the horrors of war perceived through the mind of a innocent child, too young to understand the brutal world around him. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain is similar in this regard, as it focuses on the Nazi regime through the eyes of a young child. However, the story takes a darker twist than its predecessor and brings with it some harrowing lessons. Do I think that the book is better than The Boy in the Striped Pajamas? Has John Boyne exceeded all expectation?

Yes, I would argue. Yes he has.

The story follows the journey of French child Pierrot through his childhood growing up in France and later, Germany. The setting is dominated by the Berghof, Hitler’s personal residence in Germany and thus one understands the context of Pierrot’s cruel and indoctrinated upbringing at the hands of the Fuhrer himself. The plot is gripped by Pierrot’s transformation and touches on several key themes. As the plot progresses, Hitler takes him under his wing and raises him to become the perfect German boy in his eyes…

I view the story as a sinister variant of the classic coming of age genre. Though the story’s character can be distinctly seen to change before the reader’s very eyes, the transformation closely resembles decay rather than growth. The young boy Pierrot we encounter at the beginning of the novel is soon replaced by the loyal Nazi Pieter by the end, a product of Nazi indoctrination and radicalisation throughout his childhood.

How does this differ from the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas? This book was a heart wrenching story of an innocent child caught in a war he could not understand. Whereas the reader felt the pain and sorrow of those around him, Bruno kept his innocence throughout the novel until his harrowing death. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain strikes a different tone. One, in my opinion, far more relevant to the children of war both back then and today. Instead of referring to loss of innocence, Boyne refers to its corruption. It is a chilling tale of a boy taken from his family stripped of the morals and ideals he grew up with. It has a powerful and profound message to its readers: Innocence is a fragile thing, and children caught up in war without people to trust can have it stripped away from them and replaced with something far more sinister.

I watched Bruno’s journey with sorrow, Pierrot’s with horror. Two boys in the same war, two sides of the same coin. I know which side of the coin readers should be concerned over. Children who have lost everything and who are raised to hate and loathe those who are around them. I think Pierrot’s story is the more powerful of the two and I would recommend the Boy at the Top of the Mountain to all readers capable of following such a dark and tragic tale.

Pierrot may not have been real, but his story is.

THE BOY AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN – Review by Erin, Queen Elizabeth’s School for Girls

boy-mountain

I really liked this book! It was very interesting looking at things in a different way and showing how easily someone can be influenced.

I have never read a book about the War where the Germans are the main characters so I liked how unique this is!

The only thing I didn’t like was all the different names and how different people addressed the characters in different ways.

Overall I liked how unique this book was but didn’t like the confusing names. I would recommend this book for Years 7 & 8.

THE BOY AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN – Review by Angelina, Wren Academy

boy-mountainThere is no doubt that this book was a sad one and I’m sure every review written will state that. However, while some may of wept and cried through every toil and tragedy, I did not. Instead of feeling sorry and mournful, I was filled with a blunt type of sadness that, before I read this book, I had never really felt. It opened my eyes to the possibility that the villains we have learnt to despise, may not always be to blame.

My favourite part of this book had to be the start, mainly his time in the orphanage, as we saw uncorrupted loving Pieter before he turned into a young Nazi. I found the dramatic contrast between the sweet, no prejudice boy we see at the start of the book and the cold, self-centred one at the end effective as I it really showed the power of propaganda and persuasion.

I would rate this book 9/10, as I would have loved to see an extended ending and see what happened to Pieter. I think this book would be best for someone 12+ years and would make great conversation between teenagers and their parents. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves to think beyond right and wrong, beyond yes and no.

THE BOY AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN – Review by Charan, Queen Elizabeth’s School

boy-mountainPierrot, after having lost his parents, becomes an orphan in Paris, and therefore has to live with his, aunt who works in a rich house at the peak of some mountains located in Germany; this “Berghof” (the home) is occupied by none other than Adolf Hitler himself. Pierrot finds himsef in a completely new world which is far more dangerous than he has ever imagined of, but the question is… will he ever escape this abomination? This book had me hooked, especially due to the increase of tension and this story makes me think that I am Pierrot and feel whatever difficulty he faces.
I would certainly recommend this book if you are not just interested with the fate of this poor boy, but also if you are interested in what life was like for people like Pierrot during World War Two.