Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Book Thief: Review

Today, I will talk about Markus Zusak's critically acclaimed book, THE BOOK THIEF.

Here is the synopsis:

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. By her brother’s graveside, Liesel Meminger’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up and closed down. In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.


I first saw THE BOOK THIEF while browsing on a bookstore and I fell in love with its cover. I guess the saying "don't judge the book by its cover" does not apply for me. I had no idea what its about but the dominoes on it (the cover) gave it the mysterious/dark impression that got my attention. Reading through the synopsis, the premise got through me, because the thought of a story about a girl's desire to read books is a familiar one for I have the heart of a bookworm.

One characteristic of this book that many argue if it's successful or not is the book's narration. The book is narrated by Death himself. But this is not the Death that we know carrying a caret and taking down souls mercilessly--this Death became bored of his work, kinda grumpy at times, and likes to spoil things. The idea that the reader is looking at the world through the eyes of Death is awesome, though hard to execute to the point that it is believable. Zusak really had guts trying this style, but I guess it paid off. Having another narrator of Liesel's story would change the impact of the book.

Great characterization. Zusak really weaved up a good storyline with great characters in it with this book. I couldn't stop myself from loving Liesel's family as I read through the book. I couldn't stop myself from feeling for them. The reader will be sucked in a world as seen by a little girl and Death. How the two of them meet, and how Liesel's story became remarkable to someone as prominent as Death.

The story's more on the anticlimactic side but the emotions that flood this book keep one turning page after page. The way the story is told do not emphasize the action that is happening around Liesel's life but narrows on the relationships that she had with the other characters. By doing so, Zusak crafted a story that moves slowly but surely--without making haste to get to the point of the story. Though I admit, the book did not really need all those pages.

It took me long enough to be hooked on this book. But I think the fault is on my part. I'm not very fond of reading stories about the Nazi. I'm not even knowledgeable about that period and that is why I had a hard time gripping the story but nonetheless, the story of Liesel is one of the most unforgettable stories that I will want to look back to. Though it will take a long time for me to decide if I'm going to reread it (it was so long).

I was quite surprised to see that this book was listed on the children's section because from what I've read I think this book will bore children. But I'm not stopping you from giving this book to young ones since I think this book will teach them a lot about living and loving. But my point is, since this book covers 500+ pages, I just think children won't appreciate it as much as grown ups would. And do not read this if you are looking for a fast read because this one would take up your time, but it's worth it. I guess this one should be labeled in the teens' section. I recommend this book for teens and adults, you'll learn a lot from this book!

I loved the cover of my copy of The Book Thief, but I saw another cover from the internet that I would prefer. It's so cool, I would not know if I'm awed or spooked by the cover. It displays so much emotions--just like the text itself. Here it is:

Cover - 3.5 stars
Characters - 5 stars
Writing - 3 stars
Story - 3.5 stars
Overall - 3.75 stars



1 comment:

  1. I found you on the Bookblog thread. The Book Thief is definately on my to read list. Thanks for the review, maybe I'll get going on reading it!