“I am haunted by humans.”
-The Book Thief
I read The Book Thief in two days. It was not particularly suspenseful, but I was eager to find out the fate of Liesel and Rudy and their families (and Max, of course). And then, about three-quarters though the book, the narrator revealed who would die and what would happen. And now, like Death narrating The Book Thief, I am going to outline the rest of this review for you. First, I am going to say some spoiler free thoughts about the book. Then I will say what I liked and disliked about this immensely popular bestseller.
First of all, I liked reading The Book Thief. Honestly, I loved it. Markus Zusak’s work of art reminded me what I love about reading, and why the lasting power of books is so important. The characters were lovable, if a bit two dimensional, and the setting was clear in my mind. For more than 500 pages I was immersed in the happenings of the fictional town Molching in Nazi Germany. Some obvious problems were that the action was slow to start, and some sentences that Liesel was supposed to have thought were obviously written by an adult man.
I think it’s very interesting how the children in this story are so separate from everything that’s going on outside of “Heaven Street”. They go to Hitler Youth, but are just too sensible, maybe, to get caught up in the hatred and fear most that German’s must have felt in those years.
One of my favorite parts of The Book Thief was how in opposition to Hitler’s use of words- to gather the aforementioned hatred and fear- Liesel just needs them. She reads the stories not in any kind of political defiance, but more as a defiance of how other people are using words.
Overall, if you haven’t read The Book Thief yet, because it is seriously good- minus a few problems that will either not really matter to your or lower your rating to one star.
And if you are going to be put off by the weird sky metaphors, you’ll know by the third page.
Now, onto the spoiler part of this review.
These are the main reasons I read books:
- To learn about something
- To entertain myself
- To feel some kind of human emotion- laughter, satisfaction, and the ultimate one, sadness
I primarily read The Book Thief because I thought that it would make me cry. Maybe that’s awful. Maybe this just shows my privilege, being able to want to cry. But that is why I picked it up at the library. Regardless of whether wanting to read a sad book is wrong or not, there is a simple fact. The Book Thief did not make me cry. Now, I know from reading Goodreads reviews that most people did cry reading this book. Leave a comment below- did you cry during this book?
The thing is, when it was first announced that Rudy and Liesel would never ever kiss because he was going to DIE, I was sad. But, unluckily for my eager tear ducts, I had about 200 pages to adjust to this news before it actually happened.
Death in books is sadder if it is unexpected.
As I said before, I like to have a sort of aftertaste when a book ends. A feeling of-
“I just read this whole entire book and it affected me and now I will grip it to my chest for a half hour and then recommend it to everyone I know.”
After I finished The Book Thief I did not feel that. The last thirty-something pages felt like they were teasing me, killing off so many characters, and then reuniting Max and Liesel like it was no big deal. And there was an epilogue, which I always hate.
The fact that I’ve written this kind of lengthy review that mainly concentrates on the bad things about The Book Thief might make you think I hated it. No, it was a four and a half star read, maybe even five for me (I’m pretty generous). I thought that this book was a pretty magnificent book and you can read all about how great it is everywhere else on the Internet and WordPress. I just wanted to open the conversation on The Book Thief’s ending, and how it leaves (to me, at least) something to be desired in terms of emotional resonance aka tears. So please, comment below your opinion on my opinions, and open the conversation a little wider. Thank you so much for reading my thoughts on this book, and have a great, wonderful, book-filled day.
If you want to read similar books about that time period I recommend:
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas- from the point of view of a small child
Code Name Verity- a captured spy is forced to write her story
Between Shades of Grey- not the porn one I promise!
The Dragonfly Pool- this one is middle grade but great