The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 4 stars
Liesel Meminger is an orphan and her brother dies on the train on the way to her new foster parents’ home. Her brother’s death is not the only one she will experience in her new life on Himmel Street with her foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann, unfortunately. As soon as she picks up a single object, a book, her life changes forever. Her first act of accidental book thievery begins her love affair with books and words during such a cruel and dark time in our world’s history.
I could never describe the main plot of this book shortly, for throughout the novel there are many, many twists and turns and subplots. Markus Zusak writes with eloquence and his characters and their plotlines are so well-developed, they seem like real people by the time the book is finished. And not only are the main characters well-developed, but the side characters as well. Even characters that were merely mentioned once or twice for a minor side story had a background and their own life story.
Zusak also manages quite ingeniously to blends first and third person omniscient narrators by making Death the main narrator. Death was originally intrigued by Liesel when he first encountered her as she sat beside her deceased brother on the train. He follows along her life as he collects souls during the war. Through Death, we not only get Liesel’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, but also his own. Death becomes a realistic person – we see how much he hates his job, how he reacts when he collects his quarry, and we get to know some of his quirky personality traits. And though this novel is narrated by Death, and subsequently about war and a very terrible part of history, it is never morbid – more so a soft, eloquent, poetic sadness. At times, through Death, the story takes on a lively humor (Death is quite sarcastic). This novel is not about the war, it is about a bunch of unique people and how they lived their lives during the war.
Though the characters personalities, backgrounds, and personal plotlines were all superb and incredibly well-developed, the overall plot of the book was lacking in such excellence. There were some points while I was reading when I just wanted the book to be finished, I just wanted to read the ending and be done with it. Now, though, I think Zusak’s phenomenal characters really make up for the small struggle I had to finish the book.
The Book Thief was quite a great read and a lot better than I expected it to be – actually it is nothing like I predicted. Though it took a while to finish, it was definitely worth it.
Also: Zusak confirmed the Book Thief movie will be out in theaters November 15th this year.