Monday, August 30, 2010

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Alfred A. Knopf, 2005
550 pages
YA; Historical
3.5/5 stars

Source: My sister bought it and now I have borrowed it.

Summary: (from goodreads-usually I like to write my own summaries but I had a lot of trouble with this one.)

"It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.  This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul. "
Thoughts: I saw many rave reviews of this before I started reading it so I had high hopes.  Alas I must be an exception for while I can see the strengths of it, it didn't work for me.

I liked the idea of Death as narrator but Zusack's Death isn't as good as Terry Pratchett's Death.  I liked the idea of a young girl in Nazi Germany.  Despite the popularity of WWII in film and fiction, I still feel as if there isn't as much in YA (in general I feel like there isn't much historical fiction in YA at all).  Another problem was that despite the little moments in the book, the overwhelming feeling I got from it was depression especially as Hitler and the Holocaust are referenced frequently.  I know the Holocaust was an awful event and I do not want anything of that kind to ever happen again but I personally had trouble handling that aspect. I also didn't like the use of German, followed by a rough translation of what was said-I found it annoying, perhaps because I have studied German and didn't always need the translation so it was like having something repeated to me.

My favorite part was the descriptions of books and the joyful experience of reading.  Liesel certainly needed some good in her life and I think book bloggers will appreciate those passages.  The ending did make me cry.  The death all around was too much and practically everyone dies.

Overall: While I recognize this as a book that is kind of book that wins awards, I didn't particularly like it.

Cover: The dominoes are a good choice for the cover.

Also: I had forgotten that this was part of my FITG challenge (see tab at top)

1 comment:

  1. Although I loved this book and gave it 5 stars, it's good to read a review that does not praise it so much. I like to read different opinions. I was lucky to receive this book as a Christmas present (yes, a book about death on Christmas...) and I had no idea it was so hugely popular, so I was saved the burden of high expectations.
    I'm glad you liked it in general. I agree, the parts about books are definitely a delight for lovers of books. They're my favourite parts of the novel. Thanks for sharing!


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