Billy Pilgrim is taken to a zoo on another planet where aliens teach him he can exist at any point in time. Billy Pilgrim is a World War II vet that lives in a Balkanized United States of the near future/ alternate future that is then taken to an alien zoo as an exhibit. The aliens teach him that he can exist at any point along his timeline. They encourage him to live in the good times, but being human, his mind takes him to the more traumatic moments.
Through a disjointed timeline, the story follows Billy through the war. He is captured by Nazis. He is taken by train to a prisoner camp. On the train, Billy angers a man that decides he wants to kill Billy, but they are separated. The British soldiers in the camp have plenty of supplies due to a paperwork error. The Americans become sick from eating too well and British separate from them.
Billy ends up transferred with prisoners to a slaughterhouse where they clean up from Allied bombings. Eventually, the bombings are so bad that the city is beyond repair. Billy is released at the end of the war.
In the future of the novel, America splits into several hostile regions. It is almost impossible for Billy to cross the country even for one speech. Billy realizes while in the zoo that he was killed by a man paid by the enemy he angered on the train.
Billy continues to jump back and relive the violence of the war and the terror of the bombings in the slaughterhouse.
Best part of story, including ending:
It has a unique style and uses aliens, time travel, and history in ways other novels have not.
Best scene in story:
I like Billy describing the aliens looking at him in the exhibit in the zoo. It is facinating and telling about the strangeness of being human.
Opinion about the main character:
Billy Pilgrim can't stop reliving a painful past even though he knows he could which is what most humans do in real life.