Author: Christine Leunens
Length: 628 minutes / 10.47 hours
When I saw Jojo Rabbit (2019) nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, I decided to give Caging Skies a read to see how close the adaptation came. After finishing this book, I can see why Taika Waititi ended his movie at the half-way point of the plot. This is mostly because this book only has half a plot. I can forgive a bit of blind enthusiasm of Austrian children who thought the Nazis were great, but I can’t forgive a teenager that gaslights (and, let’s be honest, rapes) a captive girl and tries to come off as the victim.
While taking a much more serious tone than the one presented in Jojo Rabbit, Caging Skies does a reasonably good job exploring themes of war, disability, and the sacrifices it takes to do what is right. Unfortunately, a lot of the lessons presented by the main character’s parents are entirely lost by the half-way point of the book when the war ends. Instead, we get a sick, overly sexualized, and outright twisted look into the head of a teenage boy who doesn’t realize the reason he’s keeping his victim hostage is exceptionally different from the reason his parents took her in to begin with.
I get that this book is supposed to be a bit more “literary” than something I’d pick up to read for entertainment. However, I found it weird how the story—told through the eyes of a teenage boy—never sounded like a teenage boy wrote it. Sure, there’s plenty of hormones on display as he grapples with having a hidden girl in his house. However, that’s more in the theme of the story instead of how the story was worded. Plus, any sympathy I would have had for the main character immediately evaporated when he chose to lie to the girl for far too long and keep her freedom from her, only managing to whine and complain how his freedom was limited by having to hide her from everyone.
An OK story that’s ruined by its second half, I give Caging Skies 2.0 stars out of 5.