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A Ladder to the Sky

A Novel

by John Boyne

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne X
A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
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    Nov 2018, 0 pages

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There are currently 39 member reviews
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  • Erica M. (Chicago, IL)

    A totally fresh take on the art of writing
    I have never read a book quite like this. A completely fresh plot. The main character reminded me of a sociopath/narcissist I once had to deal with. Awful, but too fascinating to turn away from. The use of various narrators and first, second and third person narrators kept the book fresh and unique. The book moves through various phases of the writer's life and ambition at no time making him a sympathetic character. Can't wait to see what else John Boyne has written.
  • Susan S. (Lafayette, CA)

    Patricia Highsmith meets All About Eve
    This is a wonderfully dark novel, with an evil, ruthless protagonist. There aren't very many of those, so for me it is quite a find when I encounter one. If you are a reader for whom the phrase "wonderfully dark" resonates, then I highly recommend this extremely well-written, entertaining novel. (On the other hand, if you are a reader for whom the phrase "wonderfully dark" is an oxymoron, then I don't think you would like it.)

    I also loved the inside take we got on the world of book publishing.
  • LynnNC

    An unlikable man
    This is the story of Maurice Swift, a totally reprehensible man. I often find it difficult to read about someone I find unlikable. In this instance I could not wait to see what he did next.

    The use of a few real people helped to keep the timeline on track and added some extra interest for me. An interesting and enjoyable read.
  • Julie G. (West Hartford, CT)

    A Ladder to the Sky
    This is my third John Boyne novel, and each is so different I had no idea what to expect. Wow- this one blew me away! The main character is like someone from a Patricia Highsmith novel - he is completely unscrupulous, and yet is able to use his charm and good looks to go after those who have what he most covets. Watching him entrap and manipulate the people he chooses to use is mesmerizing and still I was shocked at the depths to which he would go to achieve success. I could not put the book down, and it remained riveting until the final page.
  • Lesley F. (San Diego, CA)

    A Ladder to the Sky: Wow! THIS is a horror story.
    This author wrote The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. John Boyne can flat-out tell a story. This one is frightening if you have ever contemplated writing a story, or your story, or someone's story. Boyne draws you in slowly but as you follow this story of Maurice you begin to see what the characters telling the story don't, about this truly repulsive and yet fascinating writer. You begin to add dread to the repulsion you already are feeling and at some point (not saying where) you will be compelled to yell out to them "Look out!" The publisher and marketers have a devilish time trying to give a synopsis without revealing too much. So. Briefly, here is a man who wished to become a writer, and rich, and famous, but he is without talent. He discovers a way to get the stories he can't write from other people. It is shocking and uncomfortable - and remarkably easy to believe - even when the methods he uses become ever more horrifying. 350 pages were flown through and still the end was shocking.
    Very funny cover for the book and the publisher remarks that they were glad to get this one from John Boyne before Maurice Swift got to him...but then in the list of Boyne's published books I see a Thief of Time and a Mutiny on the Bounty ....and then I began to wonder about Boyne...yikes!...
  • Julie M. (Golden Valley, MN)

    New Favorite Author
    This story may have been a bit predictable, but I couldn't stop reading it. Boyne develops his characters so well and tells an entertaining story to boot. He's becoming one of my favorite authors after only reading three of this books.
    Thoroughly entertaining and fun read!
  • Janice P. (South Woodstock, VT)

    A Guy You'll Love to Hate
    In A Ladder to the Sky, would-be famous writer Maurice Swift will stop at nothing to advance his name, to the point of appropriating the work of others. That's no plot-spoiler—it's the point made by the book's clever cover design. The question for readers quickly becomes, How low can he go?

    A novel that gives us a thoroughly despicable protagonist is a rare, brave work. The Irish writer John Boyne (The Absolutist, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, A History of Loneliness, The Heart's Invisible Furies) is one of the very few writers I know who could pull it off. We tend to want to root for the underdog, we want our main characters to take the hero's journey, the universal arc of story. It's a tough job to work against that expectation.

    But Boyne is up to it: He knows how to hook us on page one with Maurice's seductive storytelling voice, he knows how to shift narrative perspectives to build pace and suspense—even though, or especially because we know that each victim will get played— and most important to me, he knows how to subtly reveal that there's a point to all this misery.

    It goes beyond farce: Just when we think we've got an over-the-top "happy" ending— possibly cheap, but oh-so- just desserts— there's another twist. And another. We don't know whether to root for transformation or retribution.

    I think Boyne is after bigger game than a clever send-up of writers, literary academe and the publishing industry, while raising a few philosophical questions along the way. He's holding up a mirror to human nature, but especially, he's warning us: this is what the embodiment of evil looks like, here and now. (Anyone you recognize?) Bystanders enable bullies: if we look away, silent, even for a moment or two, we do so at our peril.

    I wondered at first if I could be enthusiastic about this novel, since it's so different from Boyne's others. The answer is yes.

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Book Discussion
Book Jacket
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

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Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Ladder to the Sky
    by John Boyne

    A seductive, unputdownable psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man.
    Reader Reviews

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