Feb 4, 2010

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My rating: 3.5 stars

Quick overview: Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she 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 before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul. (From Goodreads)

There are two things need to know about this book:

1) It's a slow start but it's worth it to keep reading. Because of this, you should also only sit down with it if you can read about 50 pages at a time (which is pretty easy to do because the chapters are pretty short). I think part of the reason it took me so long to read this (I started it at the beginning of December!) was because it was easy to put down in the beginning. I would read ten pages, put it down, and then not pick it back up until a week later.

2) This book is about a girl named Liesel, but it's narrated by Death. Strangely enough, that's not as weird as it sounds. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but Death is actually pretty funny throughout the story.

The story really picks up about 150 pages in - I know, I know, not the best selling point, but keep in mind that's also when I sat down and read bigger chunks at a time. The author did an excellent job of weaving a few different storylines together and also managed to also build them off each other.

Know that this can be hard to read at points. There were plenty of things that pulled at my heart strings and resonated with me. One of the things written by Death in this book stayed with me (he's talking about the war, and I think this applies still today):

"I've seen so many young men over the years who think they're running at other men. They are not. They're running at me." (Pg 174-175)

I would recommend this book to read - just don't take as long to read it as I did! Have any of you read this? Next up, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink - it's the book of the month for pinkflipflops' blog - and also one of my ten for 2010. Anyone else with me?

(Photo: Dishy Girl via Down and Out Chic)


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

This is on my to-read list, but I was hesitant to read it after after a dismal review from a friend who ended up giving up on it... I think I need to read this in the summer at the cabin when I have longer chunks of times to read it. Right now alot of my reading gets done on my bus rides, which aren't long enough to really tackle that many pages!

Great review! I hope you guys like The Reader. It's not the easiest read, but it is so worth it!

Nicole said...

This is on my TBR list. Thanks for the heads up that I just need to get through the beginning.

Gracie said...

I've heard mixed reviews on this one - guess I'd better read it and decide for myself. I adore the picture today. I want a cup of tea now!

Amber said...

I really want to read this book! Thanks for letting me know it doesn't pick up until 150 pages in, though because I've had the same problem with books where if it's not riveting, I will pick it up and put it back down and then not pick it up again for a long time!

Charlie said...

I've got this book ready as one of my next few reads and was recommended by an old friend. I doubt I'd have noticed it otherwise. As Amber's just said, thank you for the 150 pages information, it's good to know in advance that if it feels slow it'll get better.

Brooke said...

Sorry Becky, but I have to disagree. Yes, there were some very interesting story lines but I didn't feel it really came together until closer to the end (page 400 or so). I would recommend this book only to people who understand what they are getting into. This book is slow and will not give you a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Erin said...

The Book Thief was wonderful and helped me appreciate a different experience of WWII. I thought that using Death as the narrator was creative and insightful.

I LOVED The Reader. It is passionate and intense. I was left longing for more... there was so much I wished I could know!

Unknown said...

If you love to read and if you love to care about the characters you read about and if you love to eat words like they're ice cream and if you love to have your heart broken and mended on the same page, this book is for you.I love this book.

you are the love of my life

Eliz said...

yay! I love this book and now I really want to read it again!! :)

Unknown said...

I read this book review. Really this is an interested book. I want to buy this book. I thought that using Death as the narrator was creative and insightful. I would recommend this book only to people who understand what they are getting into. I like this book very much.

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