Reviews: The Book Thief
It was good
I read it in high school on as assigned reading. I remember liking it and crying during it (although I do cry quite easily when it comes to books.) I cant tell you any specifics because I only remember the basic plot overview but it wasn't a hard book to get into so just read it.
Like Ciaphas Cain...only less...well...good...
When I first started reading the book, the first thing that struck me was the fact that the prose voice of Death is very similar to that of Ciaphas Cain, which I must say is what got me through the first couple chapters without serious impediment. I dug the humor and kept reading until...well it's hard say, because after a while, shit stopped happening and the book went without noticeable landmarks for, God, like three-fourths of the book. In a sudden twist(?) we have the Hubermanns hiding a Jew! Oh, you know, just like every single other book about Nazi Germany ever? I never saw that one coming! </sarcasm> I was honestly appalled as I read the book by its often arbitrary commentary on the morals of the Nazi Party. Not that I support them myself, I definitely don't, but when you have Death Himself putting himself against the Fuehrer, now you're just pushing your opinions on people. When the war starts to affect the citizens of Molching in earnest, I am uncomfortably reminded of the bullshit that calls itself A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, the worst book I've ever read, but that's a story for another day. Anyway, in my humble, humble opinion, the author has completely failed to make me engrossed enough to be sympathetic to the characters, to the point where when I read the Tear Jerker section on the main article, I can't help but suppress a chuckle at the memory. Everyone's thinking it, I hate to be the one to say it, but isn't it kind of obvious that there was shipping going down between Max and Liesel? The book is always all, "Rudy and Liesel" this and "Rudy and Liesel" that, but the light romance between those two really didn't have much heart and seemed like the author was just trying to distract us from the pedomance he was pulling. In the epilogue, when it doesn't reveal the name of Liesel's husband, only one name came immediately to my mind. You have two guesses who it was (Hint: It's not Rudy). When Liesel is thirteen, Death says something to the effect of, "She had a flat chest and had not yet bled," which has literally no significance to the story at all unless you want to ship Max and Liesel. I'll just close by saying that Nazi Germany? Really? There are so many different interesting time periods that this could have been in that aren't so overused. But Nazi Germany? Again?
I read this for a class and it's one of the best books I ever read. With Death as a Lemony Narrator with a unique style of narration, he prevails as the king of all Lemony Narrators. Even though Death gives away the death of one of the characters (he's bad at mystery), it still is emotional. Also, there are two segments rendered in sloppy story-book style that is also moving. Read it. Now. Oh, and a word from Death: You are going to die.
Expect a thriller, and you'll be disappointed....
...But it's still a good one. Personally I found Death's narration something of a much more sober version of Bartimaeus. It has that announcer feel (IE: "A LITTLE NOTE....") but much less snark that defined the djinn, because hey it's Death. While the story itself isn't inherently exciting as Liesel snags yet another book from somewhere on Himmel Street and learns the 'Way-of-the-world' and it's people as created by one man, the backdrop of the war(Particularly Stalingrad) and the omniscient but personal way Death narrates is. I actually pitied Death when "it" called out the stereotype that it 'enjoys' war when it actually finds the whole act tiresome like an "unreasonable boss". The concept of souls and the whole job of being the Grim Reaper make it humanizing, which is a nice touch. I'll flat out admit, as mentioned above the story of Liesel is marked by people dying all around her and at points I had to stop because I'm used to more exciting books such as the aforementioned Bartimaeus trilogy or the Ender Series. The story seems a bit dry at times because the plots are somewhat episodic and designed to more realism, so it dulls the sense of excitement one might look for in fiction(hence the warning in the title). It's not without tension though. That air of fear in Liesel's foster family as they wonder if the Nazis are going to sic the Gestapo on them, the subtle pressures of the prolonged war, and the danger that anyone can die mean that Death can literally be a step away. When it starts to "rain", the narrative shifts from Liesel to closer to Death itself as it has to get closer and closer to her. The pace of the reading rapidly increases and you wonder if Death is getting so busy around Liesel that before the war is out it'll be her time. Bottom Line: It's nice food for thought with the unique perspective and I think the book was worth it. Check it out and see if it's your thing.
Stilted prose. Lotsa narm.
If figurative language is potpourri, then this book is that crazy old cat lady's house down the block. Wooh. Overpowering. Makes your figurative eyes water and figurative temples pound. It's like that kid with the Axe deodorant who's like "This smells good!" WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH The book walks a fine line between poetic and stupid, dramatic and narmy, holocaust and lolocaust. Personally, I find it's on the negative end of all three, but it could just be that I'm a negative person. I read a few chapters in and then began to stall when the language began to stagnate and reek, when it became apparent that the characters revealed were all cardboard "Fascist pigs" vs "Tolerant, Jew-supporting, Fuhrer-hating protagonists", when the narrator decided to give away a major spoiler (which was stupid move, not bold), and when the plot decided it was going nowhere. I cannot tell you exactly how many times I stopped reading to roll my eyes at the author's latest attempt to appear poetic and thoughtful, but it was quite a few. Recommended.
Steal it if you have to...
... just read it! The characters are interesting and complex. The plot is surprisingly slice-of-life, but never gets boring because the cake happens to be World War Two era Germany, and Death as the narrator is perhaps one of the most entertaining and engaging narrators I have ever come across. I ENTHUSIASTICALLY recommend this book.