Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Book Thief

Image result for the book thief
Spoilers are here,
They live here in these words,
If you have not read The Book Thief, then disappear,
If you have not read The Book Thief, fly away like a bird.

The Book Thief was written by Markus Zusak and published in 2005.  It tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl, and her life (and experiences stealing books) during WWII in Germany.

The title, The Book Thief refers to Liesel, and whenever a book references a character in it's title, it better deliver on the promise of an intriguing and dynamic character.

Liesel definitely is that, and more.  This story revolves so heavily on the characters, but it's a good thing that each character in the story has a definitive personality and I feel like I could describe what any given character would do in a random situation--that's how well I feel like I know them.

Each character has some defining marks, like Rosa, Liesel's foster mother who is crass and blunt, but behind her vulgar mouth and harsh exterior, has a soft spot for all things Liesel.  Liesel's foster father, Hans Hubermann in turn has some strong personality traits that lead him to do some brave things throughout the course of the story.

One of my favorite characters was Rudy.  The book got a bit tedious in the second quarter, and I was just about to tip into thinking that the ending wasn't really emotional enough for the boring second quarter, until Rudy died.
Image result for rudy steiner drawing
Sometimes I love when characters die.

Let me clear this up: I really loved Rudy, and was rooting for him.  I was super sad when he died, but I also love it because I expected some emotional punches to the stomach in this book, and I definitely received them in the end.

I love a sad book every once in awhile, and sometimes for a book to be sad, you need characters to die.

I also thought the foreshadowing of Rudy's death was ridiculously tense.  For a narrator to come right out and say that Rudy is going to die in a month is well--nothing I've ever read before and it really piqued my interest.  Also it distressed me.  In a good way.

To be fair, there is nothing orthodox about the narrator, who happens to be Death.

Image result for death the book thief

What an original and effective idea!  Death's observations about humans toward the end was a really great way to sum up everything that had happened in the story and really drive home the themes that had been presented throughout the book.

Alright, five good things about this book:
  1. The characters are all really deep and fleshed out
  2. The narration is super creative 
  3. It's always nice to read historical fiction, particularly set during such an interesting and tumultuous time
  4. The book had a nice mix of uplifting moments and emotionally distressing moments
  5. There was a lot of rich symbolism, like the accordion, Liesel's kiss for Rudy, the books, etc.
Image result for accordion the book thief

And now five less than stellar things:
  1. This book spends a lot of time with exposition, getting to know the characters, which sometimes seems heavy handed and didn't necessarily keep my interest
  2. The writing style has a lot of short sentences, strange syntax, and other quirks, I suppose to make it different or intriguing, but I found it distracting and just a trifle pretentious--unnecessary basically
  3. I think the setting could have been described a bit better because I had a hard time getting a visual
  4. The chapter lengths were frustrating wild, fluctuating from short to long which some readers may love but I found distracting 
  5. It seemed like a lot of scenes didn't really advance the plot and maybe could have been eliminated--the book was rather long in fact
So do I recommend this book?  Yes, if you like historical fiction and character studies.

Have you read The Book Thief?  What did you think of it?

Image result for the book thief


  1. *very carefully scrolls to the bottom so as not to read any spoilers*

    When I read the book, I will be back. :)