Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is shaping up as a truly inspiring book. Louis Zamperini’s story of survival against all odds is so extraordinary that some readers may find it implausible. Every page of Unbroken is filled with small details and facts that are often not mentioned in fiction novels, adding to the verisimilitude of the novel. Another unique point of the book is that often times, a story is told from the perspective of one of the central characters. Unbroken is told through the voices of many people whom Hillenbrand interviewed, making it unique in that it doesn’t have a real narrator, which allows for multiple scenes to be described at one time. For example, the thoughts of all of Super Man’s crew are described, rather than just Louie’s accounts of the war. This style of storytelling also able to foreshadow some events in the novel by jumping through time.
The first quarter of Unbroken strongly illustrates how war can result in so much lost human capital. In the case of Louie, an Olympian runner was sent off to war with a low chance of survival. Imagine all of the young American men who were sent off to fight thousands of miles from their homes in the European and Pacific theaters. Many bright students and hard workers never came back. This is why Louie’s story is such an amazing one. Not only did Louie survive the war, but he survived a plane crash, weeks at sea, and (spoiler alert) time in a brutal Japanese POW camp.
I really enjoyed first quarter of Unbroken. Although the beginning of the novel was somewhat slowed down with Louie’s pre-war life. It served as a decent but lengthy lead-in to the rest of the story, but now the plot has picked up. The conclusion of the first quarter left me with a cliffhanger, with Louie’s plane shot down and his real struggle for survival just beginning.