Thursday, April 22, 2010

What I'm Reading Now: The Book Thief

The Book Thief
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak-This is another one of those books that I've been hearing great things about for ages now, but I was still hesitant to pick it up.  Something about it just didn't seem like it was going to be quite what I was looking for, even though it takes place during WWII, even though it's about a girl who loves books.  I need to get over that and start trusting y'all.  I really loved this story and the way it was told.

Liesel Meminger is a child who has just been delivered to her foster parents in Nazi Germany.  She has caught Death's eye on a few occasions-her status as a survivor made her stand out-and Death is our narrator for the duration of her story.  This is a point that you will pick up in almost any review, followed immediately by some form of, "but don't let that turn you off," and rightfully so.  Death as a narrator isn't gimmicky, but it allows for some interesting use of language and perception that might not come off quite right with a "normal" narrator.  In fact, I loved Death's voice.  Death is a story teller who has been around long enough to pick and choose the best descriptions, the most interesting turns of phrases, all while ferrying the souls of those who have passed.  Death, as you might imagine, has a slightly different perspective of the world, often offering little asides like this one about war:

I've seen so many young men
over the years who think they're
running at other young men.
They are not.
They're running at me.

Ah, so true.  And when they come, Death will take them because that's the job, but it will be done with as much care and respect as possible.  As you can also imagine, Death's job can be a bit hectic at times, but that doesn't mean he doesn't notice the individual souls in his charge.

He was tall in the bed and...[h]is soul sat up.  It met me.  Those kinds of souls always do--the best ones.  The ones who rise up and say, "I know who you are and I am ready.  Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come."  Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out.  More of them have already found their way to other places.  

*sniff* (am I the only one who went into the ugly cry in my bathtub when I read that?  I mean, I hope no one else went into the ugly cry in *my* bathtub because that would be creepy, but...never mind...)  So, anyway, Death is a sympathetic narrator, but also objective and to the point, and I loved the writing in this book.  Also, Liesel receives a book from a friend that is about a girl in a tree, complete with illustrations and everything, so you know I liked that! 

Do you have any book finds like this one, ones that you resisted for so long for one reason or another, and when you finally read it you couldn't figure out why you waited so long?  What are some of your "Phew, I'm so glad it lived up to the hype!" books?

Other reviews:
Martha Caldero, Filling My Patch of Sky, and Word Lily all reviewed this book as part of the Social Justice Challenge 
Books on the Nightstand (Podcast discussion of this book starts at 8:08)


Meryl said...

I adored this book. I'm glad you reviewed it because I need to re-read it so badly. And, yes, there were a few "ugly cry" moments....

softdrink said...

This sounds weird, but I loved Death. He was kind of snarky.

Dreamybee said...

Meryl-I held it together pretty well during this book, but that one little passages just hit me in the gut.

softdrink-I don't think it sounds weird at all-I loved him(?) too!

Heather J. said...

I read this book as an ARC long before I started blogging, but it's one that I've recommended often. I wish I'd had a blog back then - it's a book that you just want to share with everyone as soon as you read it, don't you think? :)

Care said...

I'm so glad to hear you loved this and you weren't disappointed! I found it awesome myself. I've had a few books that I've read exceed my loaded expectations - always a joy.

Dreamybee said...

Heather J-Yes, this one's definitely one to share!

Care-I'm so glad I wasn't disappointed too. It's sort of like when someone tells you, "Come on in, the water's fine!" and then you brace yourself for the shock of cold water that you know is coming and then you go, "Hey! The water really IS fine!" Woohoo!

Anna said...

This is one of my all-time favorites. I'm glad you ended up enjoying it. I really like how Zusak portrays Death. I teared up several times while reading this one.

I hope it's okay that I linked to your review on the Book Reviews: WWII page on War Through the Generations.

Diary of an Eccentric

Dreamybee said...

Anna-Yes, I liked that Death wasn't some crazy eccentric supernatural force; he's just another guy doing another job.

Of course it's OK-thanks for the link love!

Anonymous said...

am halfway finished...
now bogged down in details that
are repetitve
and nice Liesel is not so nice all of a sudden ?
it's just ok
marginal at best,
but i haven't finished it YET there is SO MUCH Great Literature OUT THERE in comparison (have you though about Hawthorne?)

Dreamybee said...

Anonymous-If you make it through the rest, I think you will find Liesel redeems herself. Even under the best circumstances, I think most kids will, at one time or another, engage in less-than-stellar behavior; it's hard to imagine what one might do in Liesel's circumstances.

Re: Hawthorne-When looking for ligher reading in the YA section of the library, not so much. :)