Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Book Thief

At long last, my review of
The Book Thief
Markus Zusak, 552 pages, 2006.

So, in my mini, teaser review, I said that "You, if you are a person, should read it." After finishing the book I am still behind that, but I want to give you some more information so that you don't just have to take my word for it.

The book is set in Germany circa the 1940's, and stars a young girl (ages 12-15 or so during the main body of the text). It is narrated by Death. In it, Liesel Meminger learns to read, to steal, and to give. She is aided by the people in her neighborhood: foster father Hans Hubermann, lemon haired Rudy Steiner, Max, the Jewish fistfighter and others.

The Book Thief won the most recent Printz Award for excellence in Young Adult Literature. That should tell you that it is a book most appropriate for those who are in or past their teenage years. It discusses issues surrounding WWII in a way that is very explanatory (and thus helpful for those who may not be as familiar with the war as some) yet not oversimplified or condescending.

The writing style is rather poetic, for being prose. It took a page or two for me to slip in and adjust to Death's voice, but once I adjusted I found the voice very effectual. The book also mimics great works such as Greek drama (and the movie The Princess Bride) in the sense that the narrator tells you what is going to happen but you still want to read on. The fact that plot pieces are prematurely revealed throughout by your narrator, and that you want to keep reading regardless, shows the magnitude of the story.

Dealing with the issues that it does, it is serious, but it is not depressing. Being over 500 pages, it is long, but it is worth it. I plan on adding it to my collection.

If any of you read it (or have read it already) feel free to add your comments to this review.


Hilary said...

Sounds like a good one! Interesting to have Death be the narrator- did Death have much of a personality? Was he likable? At all. I could imagine that bein done in a kind of uncomfortably humorous way... We're reading Mark Twain's Roughing It in the RS book club- have you read it?

Alysa said...

I would describe Death's personality as sardonic. There was, indeed a bit of "uncomfortably humorous"-ness. I would say that he was likable, though maybe not as likable as the main characters. Never read Roughing It, is it good?

Annaliese and Spencer said...

I am glad that you read books. It gives me hope for mankind. well, womankind anyway.