This week for Teen Book Talk our reviewer talks about a classic war story, Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, set in Europe during World War I.

Teen reviewers select which titles and movies they’d like to review, and opinions are their own. **Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

Natlie L., Teen Reviewer, Grade 11

all quietBook Title: All Quiet on the Western Front

Author: Erich Maria Remarque

Format: Book

Year of Publication: 1929

Will appeal to fans of: history (WWI), nonfiction, tragedy

Rating: 4.5 Stars

The story follows the life of a young German soldier by the name of Paul Baumer. The patriotic spiels of his school teacher, the urges of his schoolmates, and his wish to bring some excitement into his mundane life convinced him to enlist in the German army at the start of World War I, but he soon realizes that everything he thought he knew about war was a lie. There was no excitement in war; all it does to a man is cause him to cast away his humanity for the sake of survival. What’s the point of surviving if all he can do afterwards is wait for the next battle to rip away what’s left of him? The tragic story of Paul and his comrades as they are toyed with by this inescapable cycle of horror is detailed in the moving novel All Quiet on the Western Front.

Unlike most contemporary works of literature, this novel does not romanticize war. It does the exact opposite. It punches the reader with an endless barrage of tragedies that real soldiers have experienced. Nothing is held back—from the descriptions of horrendous deaths of comrades out in the fields to the unbelievable thoughts of disillusioned soldiers. The brutal honesty that Remarque packs into the book touches people from all walks of life and forever eliminates even the slightest trace of a belief that war is “cool.”

This honesty is the reason why I treasure All Quiet on the Western Front. Never before have I read a book with so many memorable lines that stir up such strong feelings of sympathy and sadness within me. One of the many quotes is, “We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing from ourselves, from our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces.” With this particular quote, Remarque simultaneously gives arguably the best description of the mental state of Paul and his comrades throughout the whole book and captures the pained hearts of the readers. The combination of his honesty and artful way with words creates an unforgettable work of literature that provides a truthful insight into the minds of those from the Lost Generation.

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to read such a stirring novel, but it saddens me to realize that most teens, myself included, would not have read this book had it not been a part of the current high school English curriculum. That being said, I highly recommend All Quiet on the Western Front to every person in this world who can down some vivid descriptions of battlefields and is prepared to take a peek into the minds of those that war destroyed.