Aug 29

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak

I was not prepared for this book. I did not expect it to be such an emotional read!
Death, as the narrator, is very effective. I liked the bulletins and summaries and the unusual use of language which works brilliantly to evoke meaning through quirky use of vocabulary and imagery. It is just sufficiently ‘other’ to be convincing as Death’s own style:
‘The sound of crying children kicked and pinched’
‘…the minutes soaked by’
‘His eyes were the colour of agony, and weightless as he was, he was too heavy for his legs to carry.’
‘The oldened young man …’

Germany during the Second World War, is the backdrop against which the lives of the characters interact. The main characters are engaging and and the descriptions of them are economical and effective, using some great imagery; Rosa, the short, stocky, bossy, no nonsense foster mother, is described as being ‘like a wardrobe under a coat’.

Essentially a ‘coming of age’ story it is Liesel, the book thief, with whom we empathise as she struggles to catch up on her missed education and discovers the world of books. All of her important relationships
are linked to books, she steals her first book in the trauma of her brother’s death; her foster father teaches her to read; her best friend, Rudy is her partner in crime as they ‘steal’ books from the Mayor’s wife together; Liesel shares her books with Max, the Jew hiding in the basement…..

Part of the success of the book comes from it being multi-layered, thought provoking, moving and atmospheric and yet, not at all a difficult read. There are witty touches of humour, the story is well paced, there is drama, sadness, pathos and at the same time it is uplifting.

The Book Thief is definitely not ‘run of the mill’. If you only like fast-paced thrillers it might not be for you but if you enjoy something a little different, books with real, believable characters and that celebrate the human spirit then I would certainly recommend this.

Category: Reviews. Tags:Description,Styles, Language,Reporting

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