Book review: “Catch-22”

Natalie Brink, Staff reporter

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Catch-22 was written by Joseph Heller in 1953. It is a satirical war novel that is set on a small island off the coast of Italy in WWII. The book follows Yossarian, a bombardier who’s desperately trying to get sent home.

To be sent home, a pilot has to fly the amount of combat missions his colonel requires. However, Colonel Cathcart keeps raising the number of combat missions his men have to fly before Yossarian can fly enough to be sent home. Yossarian attempts to convince the people around him that he is insane and needs to be sent home, but Catch-22 stands in his way. The catch states that anyone who is insane can go back to the U.S.. However, when somebody wants to leave combat, it means that they’re sane, for they have concern for their safety. Yossarian finds himself stranded in war without a way out.

Heller brings a fantastically humorous writing style to this nonsensical novel. Without the witty dialogue or the bizarre twists, the book would not be considered a classic today. I often found myself laughing at the punch lines and the sheer absurdity of the story. It’s one of a kind, a war book that does not balance humor and death, but layers each on top of the other in a profound way. Catch-22 is nothing if it’s not first unpredictable; it keeps the reader on his or her feet until the very last word.

That being said, it is a challenging read. It contains 453 pages of several subplots that branch out, go back in time and switch perspectives. Despite the fact that most of the subplots take place in a single chapter, they all have far reaching consequences on the main plot. That’s where things get messy. To read the book, the reader has to be completely attentive to it, which can be difficult when you consider its length and complexity.

Overall, it’s a fantastic read that leaves a lasting impression. It’s hard to even begin to scratch the surface when it comes to Catch-22; you have to read it to understand it and appreciate it. Only readers looking for a challenging (but rewarding) read should seek it out.

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