A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne: Book Review

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
Publication: November 13, 2018 by Hogarth Press
384 Pages
Buy on Amazon    

From Publisher: A seductive Highsmithian psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man who will stop at nothing in his pursuit of fame

My Thoughts: Bottom line: I really wanted to like this book much more than I actually did. I’ll start by saying that I don’t have to like main characters in order to love a story. Nor do they have to be mentally sane. In fact, I loved You by Caroline Kepnes and I’m not sure there could be a bigger psychopath than Joe. So I knew going in that Maurice was going to be an unlikeable, manipulative character and I was fine with that. Really, I suspected that might even make the story more enjoyable.

Like many others, I loved The Heart’s Invisible Furies last year, it was actually my top book of 2017 so I definitely had high hopes for this one, although I did remain open to the idea that this was a completely different story. And, if anyone has the writing ability to shift gears and write a totally different type of story it’s John Boyne. That being said, the writing quality in A Ladder to the Sky was excellent. Boyne has such an ear for dialogue and every character was so well drawn. Most were flawed which I loved and I even thought Maurice was very multidimensional…I didn’t like him at all but he had many layers which I appreciated.

The novel is structured in an interesting way in that the sections alternate between Maurice and those he manipulates. Actually manipulates may be too nice of a word for what he does to some of them…I’m thinking of you Edith! This technique provided fresh perspectives and insights, moving the story along at a faster pace. Maurice’s main goal was literary fame and success at any cost which kept me reading to find out how many lives he’d ruin along the way and whether he’d ever get his comeuppance? You’ll have to read to find out but for me, getting that answer didn’t prove as surprising as I thought it would be. I expected much more and was left feeling underwhelmed. Despite this, I still love John Boyne’s writing and will be waiting on his next book!

Thanks to Hogarth Press for my copy 


Published by

13 thoughts on “A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne: Book Review

  1. Ok – so you wanted a more climactic ending? I can see that – the ending was definitely more inevitable than earth-shattering, but that didn’t really bother me. He might be an auto-buy author for me now…and I want to go back and read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas even thought it’s 1) YA and 2) WWII historical fiction. Haha.


    1. I guess I did. This was a hard review to write because I didn’t hate the story but I didn’t love it and just felt kind of bored throughout but thought the ending would be worth it. It wasn’t for me. The Boy In the Striped Pajamas has tons of good reviews…you vet it for me:)


  2. I hate that you didn’t love this as much as you hoped, Renee! I just finished it on Sunday and really enjoyed it, but I have yet to read Hearts (ugh!! I keep putting it off to read my neverending ARCs) so I can’t compare it to Hearts. The writing was phenomenal, but I did expect that since I’ve read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and actually taught it in my Lit classes. I do agree that the ending could have been “more” something…haha, I know that doesn’t really explain what I mean, but I hope you get what I mean. I hope what you’re reading now is 5 stars!


    1. I know I really wanted and expected to love it but I just didn’t:( I can’t wait for you to read Heart’s and compare. His writing is outstanding no doubt!


  3. Nice, honest and thorough review Renee. I had hummed and hawed about this one, I am glad I held off. It might still make it to my TBR as I do enjoy a well-written book, but not sure about the subject matter.


    1. Thanks so much Carla! This might be worth a try from the library, John Boyne is such a great writer so that’s a plus. If you do read it I hope it’s a winner for you


  4. Fro my A Ladder to the Sky was not quite the wow book that Hearts was. It won’t make my top ten for the year, but I’d give it a solid 4 stars…B+. I do love Boyne’s writing and also need to go back and read some of his earlier books.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s