Block 11 examined the human drive to survive during World War II. The deranged German officer in charge of a concentration camp decided to play chess with the lives of ten prisoners to punish the general population for the escape of three other men. The officer selected ten men to be placed in Block 11, and gave them a harrowing ultimatum: decide on one person who will give their life by morning as penance for the escapees, or all ten prisoners would die.
The novel moved between the officer playing chess with his son and the men in Block 11. Although the chess playing was supposed to be symbolic, it just fell flat. The dialogue here was choppy and hard to follow. But what I found most disappointing with this story was that the characters were not given great depth. I kept hoping that their lives and backstory would emerge as they debated who should be sacrificed, but they didn’t. There were a few twists to the ending, which I liked, but they didn’t have the punch they should have. Again, that was a result of the lack of character development.
Overall, this was a quick read, but not a favorite.