Johnny Got His Gun is a historical fiction story about Joe Bonham, wounded soldier who was blown nearly to smithereens by a landmine during World War I. He has lost both of his legs, both of his arms, his ears, and his entire face and still managed to survive, with nothing but his own mind to keep him company.
I want to say that I absolutely loved this book, but "love" is such a weird word to use in this situation because this novel is horrifying. I can't love the casualties of war. I can't love the situation that Joe is in. I can't love that only a few years after this book was written and published, World War II happened. I can't love the awful that is war.
The one thing I can love is Dalton Trumbo's phenomenal writing throughout this entire novel and his ability to make you feel all the feels for Joe Bonham. I can also love his ability to make you either question how you feel about war or confirm what you already felt about it. I have read that people became pacifist's after reading this novel, so I'm not the only one that thinks it's powerful as heck. The way Trumbo wrote this book is very interesting. He used a third-person narrative combined with a "stream of consciousness" style of writing. This is a cool combination because even though we spend the entire novel inside Joe's head, Joe never refers to himself as "I" - it's always "he". Perhaps this was done to make it even more obvious that Joe has no control over anything in his current situation because "I" is a lot more controlling than "he". If so, that is genius writing. The novel has long sentences, lots of repetition of certain words/phrases, and lack of punctuation to mimic real thoughts in a person's head, especially under moments of stress, anxiety, sheer joy, and happiness. For some people, these reasons may mean that they have a hard time reading this novel, though I would urge to please appreciate it for what it is as it is the best choice for this story. Personally, I loved the writing style and I don't think this novel would have had the same impact if it was written any other way.
If you think Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five is an amazing anti-war novel and you haven't read this one, you probably should. This book affected me way more than SF did. There were quite a few times where I had to stop reading, close the book and just sit there absorbing what I just read. You experience present Joe with his tasks of trying to figure out how to track time and communicate with his nurse, as well as his incredibly deep thoughts and reflections about the war and what has happened to him. You also experience his flashbacks to his life before the war. This book had it all. I am not ashamed to say that I balled my eyes out while reading Chapter 10. That chapter is the most powerful part of any book I have read in my life. In addition, I have "liked" a few of the best quotes from the book that will hopefully show up on this review.
I would rate this book more stars if I could. If it was a 10 star system, it would get 10 stars. I feel like everyone on Earth should read this book; maybe wars wouldn't be a thing anymore if they did...