Monday, 18 July 2011

Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Pages: 592, paperback

ISBN: 9780330423304

Publisher: Picador

Genre: Historical fiction/literary fiction/Young Adult

Source: bought

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. . . .
Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she discovers something she can't resist- books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever they are to be found.
With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel 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.
(Taken from Goodreads)

There are so many things I can say about this book. All of them positive.
What struck me as odd was the narrator: Death. When I read the prologue, I was astounded at the poetic language used, but I was skeptical as to how Death could narrate the life of a little girl in Nazi Germany. I didn't think it could work, but boy, was I wrong. Having Death be personified in the way he was gave new light to the situation, especially when he described his thoughts on the book thief and on humanity in general. I loved how Death used colours to describe the setting and the feel. This alone moved me in an odd way.

There wasn't much of a plot, though; it was more of an explanation of a situation, but nevertheless, it was gripping.

I couldn't actually believe that I cried, despite Death telling me chapters in advance that this person was going to die later, or that in a few chapters, a new character will be introduced etc.

It took some getting used to, Zusak's writing style, but a few chapters in, it seemed quite natural, and even influencing my own writing style. It seemed almost poetic, short but sweet, and incredibly metaphorical. The symbolism was also quite interesting, like with the colours in the sky, and I grew to really love the characters, even the minor cast who only appeared once or twice.
The almost lyrical prose took me quite a while to get through. I can usually knock off about 100 pages in about an hour, but with this story, I took my sweet old time, devouring the novel word by word. So, it took me over a week of non-stop reading to get through it. But I loved every long minute of it.

Cover: 4
Plot: 3
Characters: 5
Writing: 5
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 5/5

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