Monday, February 16, 2009

The Book Thief

http://www.professornana.com/book%20thief%202.jpg http://thelitconnection.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/mz-sitting.jpg

Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Pages: 560
Genre: YA Literature, Holocaust
Yearly Count: 10
A Happy Chicken Award Winner!

I knew this was going to be good before I started reading it. Sometimes that makes me jaded and I don't enjoy a book as much as I could have, it is almost as if it has been ruined by expectations of how it was going to be good and if it isn't good in those ways I am let down and disappointed. The Book Thief was good enough, in all areas that that wasn't a problem, it was well rounded and real, honest and humble and yet Zusak took those leaps that jumped it into greatness. It could have been just good, it covered a strong subject matter and that could have been just good enough, but I felt he pushed beyond all that and catapulted The Book Thief to go down in history.

I don't want to spoil it for anyone, so cover your ears and hum if you want to read this and you haven't read it yet. No, I won't spoil it. But one thing that I can tell you is that the omniscient narrator is death, or an angel of death. I thought that sounded too spooky before reading it but it really isn't. It is real, it is life- that death comes to us all.

Spoiler

I couldn't and still cannot get over the ending, or the last phrase in the book, "I am haunted by humans" (p. 550) I loved what this conveyed to me, what it made me understand. Several times throughout the book the narrator speaks of thinks that should be beautiful as ugly, and he uses the word 'ugly' in strange ways throughout The Book Thief. I came to understand thoguh, that this last phrase of the book is both good and bad, he is haunted by our beauty and attracted to the good that we can do, and also by the harm we cause each other, the pain.

Death is what we tend to fear, death is scary and cold but for me the point of the book was that what are fellow humans can do to us is worse than death, worse than uncertainty. I thought it was also interesting because death is attracted to humans, he has a job in life and has a need to perform when death comes to people, he is programmed and just does that. The beautiful side of humans is that we do have a free choice, a will and we get to make the call between walking in beauty and walking in brutality. It makes both extremes so much more severe because we do not HAVE to do either, we choose good, or bad and our choices affect those around us even if we don't want them to.

Spoiler end

The perfect ending to me is that which Zusak leaves unsaid- to have an ending where you just close the book sit in silence and think of all the immensity of it all. That is what a good book, great book should do to you. That is why I believe The Book Thief is one of the best books I have ever read, I'd say in my top 5 now. And that is saying a lot coming from me, since I abhor jumping on any sort of bandwagon. Heaven help me!

What about you do you automatically try to dislike things that EVERYONE else likes? Or do you just not read them or watch them? I still haven't seen the Titanic (yep the one with Leo DiCaprio) I am stubborn, and the only reason I haven't see it is that, well I didn't want to jump on that bandwagon!! (I was much more hardcore in high school!) Do you do that or is it just me?

I give it my biggest two thumbs up, the happy chicken award.

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26 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I'm not like you, but let me tell you, my 21 year old son is! Oh, and you haven't missed anything by not seeing Titanic.

Jennifer said...

I have this book on my TBR shelf. I'm really looking forward to it for my War through the Generations reading challenge. I'm glad that you liked it despite the hype. Thanks also for pointing out the spoilers. I'll let you know what I think when I'm done.

Literate Housewife

Cathy said...

I hadn't heard any of the hype about this book, and I absolutely loved it!

drey said...

I loved The Book Thief the first time I read it. & the second. & it's on my pile for yet another read. =)

Anna said...

I LOVED this book! It's one of my all-time faves. Glad to hear you enjoyed it as well.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Suey said...

Some bandwagons are just meant to be jumped on! This is one of them! Yes, one of my top five all-time books too. I was lucky enough to read it just as the buzz was getting started, so never felt jaded or whatever. It was even better the second time through.

Serena said...

I reviewed and loved this book...here's my link: http://savvyverseandwit.blogspot.com/2008/07/more-than-stolen-books.html

I will add your link to my review as well.

Alyce said...

I still haven't read my copy yet, so I just skimmed your review. It's on my list to read though. Which reminds me that I need to track down a copy of the next book for bookclub.

Bellezza said...

This book made me so very sad. I remember reading all the raving reviews (how about a little alliteration?), and being surprised I wasn't crazy about it. I did, however, enjoy the perspective from Death's point of view. Very creative.

Maw Books said...

Luckily, I read this book before all of the hype for my book club. We all loved it.

farmlanebooks said...

I think the hype spoiled this book slightly for me.

Some aspects of it were great, but alot of it was just good - but then may be I was just looking for the flaws because I'd been asssured that it was an amazing book.

Stephanie said...

You aren't missing anything. Although I think I'm in the minority of people that absolutely hated Titanic!!

I read The Book Thief last year and it was truly one of the best books I have ever read. I literally sobbed the last 50 pages! My husband thought I was nuts!!

Marg said...

I really enjoyed this when I read it! Totally awesome!

violetcrush said...

I have read this book and LOVED it too. But I dind't know the author was so young...

Trish said...

I don't necessarily like bandwagony type of things either, but I kept hearing about this one and had to try it out (for some reason it isn't the same that WE all know about it but the rest of the world doesn't...isn't the same type of bandwagon that say Twilight is). I'm so glad this one lived up to your expectations--it really is a great book, huh? I'd love to re-read it again.

thebookladysblog.com said...

I think I might be the last person on the face of the earth not to have read this book,and it's not for lack of wanting to....I just haven't gotten there yet, but this review makes me want to bump it way up.

I'm not altogether opposed to books that get a lot of attention, but I'm generally skeptical of bestsellers because I (perhaps snobbishly) assume that something loved by the masses isn't necessarily of the highest quality. That's why it took me forever and a day to get around to reading Water for Elephants, but boy, was I glad I did.

Madeleine said...

I had this book in my hands, borrowed from the library and had to return it due to its immense success. I am going to buy it this time.
Thank-you for the great review and the spoiler which in case of this book only adds to my wanting to read it.

Joseph said...

I had this on my list of books for the BangBang challenge, but almost replaced it with something else because I am a little snobby about reading fiction classified as young adult. However, it showed up on so many book bloggers lists of the best of 2008 that I gave it a try. Boy am I glad I did!

Have you thought of reading one of his other books? For example, I think I Am the Messenger also looks like it might be a good read.

priscilla said...

I tend to avoid jumping on the bandwagon because I am afraid of being disappointed. Sometimes I equate "popular" with "mediocre," because it seems like people want to be spoon fed the easiest stuff. And like you, I've never seen Titanic!

That said, I think The Book Thief seems worth reading.

gautami tripathy said...

I loved this book. A must read. My copy is going to my nephew. Hope he likes it.

Lynda said...

This is one of my favourite books. It made me cry ...

claire said...

It seems everyone has read this book! It's on my reading list this year, too.

I don't really care if I jump on the bandwagon or not. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. It all depends on the book itself, really, whether it appeals to me or not, no matter if it's popular or unpopular.

S. Krishna said...

I really want to read this one, but I'm afraid my expectations are too high. Thanks for the review!

Janssen said...

Oh I want to read this again. I just loved it.

bookoholic13 said...

I had a similar reaction that the hype make it a little disappointing, but I agree that it really is a "great" book.

Death was by far my favorite character! His fascination with humans reminded me so much of the Damiel character from Der Himmel ├╝ber Berlin (US Title: Wings of Desire) which is my favorite film of all times.

PS! On the Titanic note, you didn't miss anything! I spent the last hour of the film talking at the screen: "Oh, just drown already!" :)

Corinne said...

I was given this book and I'd never heard of it when I began. I was floored and amazed and completely where you were. I'm so glad you liked it :)